You are going through your day trying to work or take care of life’s responsibilities. Then the news hits. You stare at the TV or computer feed in crippling shock. How can such a horrible thing be happening? Why would a “human being” do such a thing? It is all too much. It is sad, so very sad.
We have confronted this before and the aftermath. We just lost ten people of a different creed and age. We are always lurching for answers and too often we are provided false ones by the voices. The voices who say it is because of false gods like hatred of a certain group or some imagined philosophy. The voices tell us it is how they killed not the person who did the killing. The voices search through hundreds of pages of ramblings of a sick mind to seize on a few words that enhance their political or philosophical positions when they are simply ramblings of a sick mind. Nothing more.
This incident should give us clarity – it is sick minds, not hatred. What kind of sick mind shoots their grandmother? A grandmother. The same sick mind that can walk into a school and kill nineteen young children and two adults. Children that have barely experienced life and should have lived another eighty wonderful, joy-filled years. What kind of sick mind causes this devastation to the dead, their families, their community, their nation? How can we be in this place?
Instead of focusing on political arguments we must focus on root causes. It is not the guns. The guns are just a tool of choice. When Buffalo happened, some were quick to blame racism. Yet the same people who blamed the deaths on racism instead of a sick mind willfully ignore 9,900 blacks slaughtered on our streets last year principally at the hands of fellow blacks. The people in Buffalo were not killed by a rambling racist. They were murdered by a sick mind.
Why do we have these events? Why do we have blacks killing blacks daily in Chicago and Baltimore and other cities? Why are we ignoring the deaths nearing 100,000 annually of our fellow citizens from drugs they should never want to touch? Why do we have the explosion of teenage suicides? Why do we have an epidemic of people willingly living on our cities’ streets instead of being functioning people living a safe and secure life? Why have we become callous to it all?
In 2000, Robert Putnam published Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community . Putnam bemoaned the death of bowling leagues even though more people were bowling. The big picture is the death of community. Those ties to the people around you. The ties that keep you grounded and sane. The bowling leagues are simply a manifestation of the collapse of community. Whether that tie to the people around us is a church, a club, a sewing or knitting circle. Anything that brings people out of their cocoon to share time with their fellow human beings. Humanizing them.
The forces of our society have been driving us away from that. Smaller church attendance. Being a single parent. Movie watching at home instead of a theater. Meals delivered and eaten at home alone instead of a restaurant. Working from home. All these factors add to the isolation and the mental destruction and the loneliness.
It was a joy once the mask mandates came off to suddenly see groups of eight, ten or twelve people sharing a table at a restaurant talking, laughing, humanizing. It was very uplifting to reverse that period of isolation that the pandemic caused and exacerbated this period of sickness.
A “person” slaughtering fellow humans is no doubt a direct cause. It is not guns. It is guns in the wrong hands. We have seen incidents of people attacking others with knives or even cars. No matter, we need to focus on the sickness itself, not how they manifest their sickness. We must focus on the root causes. We have too long told people they do not need community. We have too long told people they can raise children without a partner. We have too long told men they are unimportant in children’s lives. They don’t need to settle down with a family. We have too long looked for answers from government when the answers will never be there. It is us; it is how we participate on our society. It is how we treat each other. It is us ignoring the devastation around us.
I wrote a column entitled Estrangement that I ran a few years back over the holiday season. It focused on how people should stop their minor arguments with family members or friends and use the holiday season to knock on the door, open the door and end the bitterness over trivial things.
We need to do that as a country. I don’t know about you, but I cannot stand many more of these days sitting at my desk crying over the mass slaughter of children or any other fellow Americans. We must do better.
Let us not spend another Memorial Day mourning the murder of children instead of mourning the loss of those who fought to provide this country the freedoms we uniquely enjoy.