Given that I spent a little while this weekend listening to someone make some remarks about “The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all”, and that at least a few of those remarks related to gun violence, I was particularly attuned to, and dismayed by the fact that on my morning commute this morning, the top local, national, and international headlines on the radio news all contained the words “gunman” and “shooting”:
- In my general geographic neighborhood, one person was killed and three more were wounded in a shooting incident in West Petersburg, VA.
- Near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a man a man shot up a Sikh temple during services Sunday morning, killing seven people, in what’s been described an act of “domestic terrorism”.
- On the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, a NATO supply truck driver was shot and killed this morning as his truck crossed near the Torkham border crossing.
And we can’t forget that all of this follows the Aurora, Colorado movie theater incident a few weeks ago, and many other gun-related incidents around the world, those that make headlines and the many others that don’t.
I really don’t know what the root of the problem is, at least when we’re talking about gun violence inside the United States (to be fair, the international example falls a little farther outside the discussion, but it’s still a symptom of some of the same issues). I could write a polemic here about the pervasiveness and weirdness of American gun culture, the rampant “othering” of any person or group that doesn’t resemble the subjects in your average Norman Rockwell painting, the stress people feel due to the struggling economy, and the fact that a lot of people with serious problems can’t get the help they need within the healthcare and criminal justice systems in this country as they exist, but beyond this really long sentence, I won’t. Feel free to do some reading on those things, though – it’s those very topics that lead to our inability to foster the kind of peace, freedom, and justice for all I think we all would, on at least some level, hope we as a people and species should strive for.
No, this post is pretty much just my public lamentation that on a day where there are so many great things to talk about, like the inspirational stories of peaceful competition at the Olympic Games, and the fact that last night, NASA landed a mobile science platform on the surface of Mars; stories and events that celebrate all the best that humanity is capable of both physically and intellectually, all the lead stories at the top of the hour were about somebody putting bullets into someone else.
I understand that there’s truth in the adage about how if it bleeds, it leads, and I understand the economic realities of why the media runs with these kind of stories. Maybe, though, it would be better if we didn’t have so many of these sorts of stories to report.