all of the selves we Have ever been
Law enforcement responds to a call.
It is from a day care center, a grade school, a high school, a college campus, a church, a synagogue, a mosque, a concert, a festival, a public protest, a movie theater, a nightclub, a bar, a restaurant, a grocery store, a convenience store, a subway station, an Interstate Highway, a gas station, a military base, a Congressional baseball game, a campaign event, a Veterans Home, a municipal building, a manufacturing plant, a park, a bank, a shopping mall, a jewelry store, a city street, a birthday party, a block party, a football watch party, a post office, a FedEx facility, a factory, an office park, a newspaper office, a library, a massage parlor, a yoga studio, a health care facility, a hotel, a trailer park, a home, an apartment complex, a neighborhood door-to-door rampage.
There is an intruder.
He has guns.
And body armor.
He has a plan.
And a belief system.
He is influenced by hate-filled public discourse and an on-line community of like-minded individuals who provide him with an audience for this act, an act for which his audience will dub him a hero.
Is he mentally ill?
It is difficult to assess in this digital age in which inattention, thought disturbances, paranoia, and personality disorders have become main stream, an age in which many have willingly surrendered the higher powers of the human mind, gifts such as impulse control, empathy, and insight. We are trading our humanity for followers and likes. It is becoming cool to be unkind.
We ask ourselves what must be done about mass shootings. And the truth is that we need intervention at every level.
Law enforcement needs to be better prepared and more vigilant as do we in our comings and goings from all of the normal places we live and frequent. The list above is a list of all the places mass shootings have occurred in this country. There is no place untouched.
We must do something to stop the proliferation and use of guns, especially assault weapons. We must be vigilant for signs and reports of planning. And most basic of all, we must stop the hate-filled, divisive public discourse that is overwhelming all of us in person, in print, on television, and on-line. We are exhausted by it, but there are some minds more fragile and more susceptible, people who will be damaged and act out in ways that harm us all.
We need to prioritize human rights and human safety over gun rights and gun safety. The people who fill our legislatures need to represent the good people of America. There are enough of us to really show our power at the polls. And while we are at it, maybe we should change the rules of the game. Let’s show our elected officials to whom we have given good salaries, Cadillac health insurance, and big pensions what the gig economy we face looks like. Let’s limit their pay to the work they get done. If they want to represent special interests, let them go to work in corporate America.
In the mean time, there are enough of us. If we have to, we can lock arms and form a human chain around every school in America so that our children will know they are safe, that grown-ups are in charge, that parents are not defenseless, that they can believe in us again. My children are grown, but sign me up. I’ve got the rest of my life to give for something that matters so much.