Sunday morning, with cable television and social media spewing reports of the mass killings in an Orlando nightclub, I found myself feeling uncomfortably numb.
Not that I wasn’t moved as a human being by the painful loss of life or the families forever impacted by the grotesque killings. My stomach hurt. My heart hurt. I spoke to God.
But I also felt as if I was becoming less shocked and surprised at the event. Like I said earlier, I felt a creeping sense of being uncomfortably numb.
Sitting in church Sunday morning, we prayed for the victims and their families. We’re not a group who passes judgments about others, but rather recognizes everyone for what they are – children of God. And for someone to lash out at one of our family members is to lash out at all of us. And we collectively, deeply, hurt.
But then again, this isn’t the first time a church, community, or nation, reeled from a mass killing. Only this time, the body count reached 50. And in this new state, benchmarking these events is now a part of the common national dialogue.
Within hours, the issue became political. Positions were staked out from the all sides of the political spectrum. Condolences were quickly issued through social media channels, prayers somberly claimed in televised sound bites. But make no mistake – political gain was – and is – the common undercurrent. And we’ve all heard this before.
I’m left to wonder when we’ll pass the tipping point of either accepting this is going to be a part of our world going forward or give these tragedies their due respect. To do nothing, to avoid meaningful conversations and commitments to action, is to allow us to continue to slip into a desensitized value of life.
Periodically we hear of a local school being on lock down. Remember when that once sent chills down your spine? Today people increasingly – including our children – equate the event to a practice fire drill or inconvenience. This should scare us.
We do not need to spend millions of tax dollars on research on discovering the common threads running through these events. Ask someone what is going on and you’ll hear lots of opinions – but most people will settle on three common elements. 1.) Access to weapons designed to take large amounts of life in a small amount time. 2.) Mental health and how we as a nation refuse to commit the resources to take care of those who need our help the most. 3.) A politically charged system where victories are not measured by what is best for the people, but rather by an interest maintaining a position of power.
The United State of America is the most generous, intelligent, and prosperous nation ever created on the face of the Earth. Rational people support the right for responsible people to own guns – as the Second Amendment states. And when I speak to many of these responsible gun owners, they too, are given pause to why weapons designed to kill large amounts of people in a short time circulate in society.
And very few people will argue the common thread of mental illness does not run through those committing these crimes. Whether driven by delusions of fame, chemical imbalances, or deeply seated pain from ugly chapters in their lives, mental health sits front and center in this discussion. But as a nation, we’ve chosen a path of least resistance – reduce care and hope for the best.
And finally, our political leadership’s hands are blood red from using these tragedies as opportunities to promote political agendas. Leadership, the type that takes the courage to do the right thing in the face of losing it all, is unfortunately absent on a national scale. We should not allow this to be the legacy of our nation.
I refuse to become uncomfortably numb. I prefer to be angry. Please join me.