Sunday, July 29, 2012

Resilient in our complacency

Last Friday morning I opened my eyes, looked at my phone and learned a young man had shot up a Denver-area movie theater with a semi-automatic weapon, killing 12 and wounding 58 others.

My reaction probably was not unlike your own.

There's that sinking feeling -- a moment of horror and disbelief -- followed by hours and days of watching the news. Waiting for information that would make me feel better about what had happened.

Explanations, no matter how dissatisfying, tend to put me at ease. Words to file: Loner. Brilliant. Psychopathy. It won't happen to us.

We humans are resilient this way.

Of course, for a while we read and write and yell and keen. We'll wonder what's happening in the world. We'll look to place blame. We'll try and find solutions.

Mostly, though, we just tend to point fingers. We talk about the need for more mental health services despite being aware of the sad paradox: even if it reaches all who need it, therapy doesn't always provide relief.

We rekindle the battle over gun control. People on one side calling for a ban of certain kinds of guns and ammunition; and people on the other side saying we need more fire power.

Soon we'll shake it all off our slickers like rain from the cloud of personal responsibility. Then we'll simply hang up this old coat in the closet of our pushed-aside thoughts, semi-forgotten, until the next time it thunders.

Sad, really.

Because eventually we'll accept this tragedy as we have the many that have come before it and we'll move on.

We'll focus on dangers to our children that don't have such clear constitutional protections and we'll hammer away at those:

We banish the BPA lining our water bottles because of mounting doubts about its safety; we jettison the drop-side cribs that endangered our infants, the trans fats clogging our arteries and the cigarette smoke causing our lungs to be diseased.

Some will yell “Nanny State!” But we won't listen. “ I'll see your Nanny State and raise you a Car Seat Law, my friend. … Go on … tell me how that's infringed on your inalienable right to be a negligent parent.”

The discussion on gun control (and increasingly any regulation) rationally these days seems impossible. Even talking about creating tough guidelines and restrictions for those attempting to buy military-grade weapons -- is somehow blasphemy against the framers of the constitution.

I'm not sure who shaped the argument, that no regulation is preferable to sane regulation, but my guess it wasn't the good, law-abiding gun owners who value safety and education above easy access and mayhem.

Ah … But you've hear it all before.

You've said it.

You've railed against it.

You've even voted for more than one person who'd promised to take on the opposition, whichever camp you opposed.

But nothing changes.

Perhaps they are right: People who want to hurt people will find a way to do it. Why not just fight gunfire with gunfire on a level playing field? Eye for an eye.

Or perhaps it's time to let bygones by bygones, ye pacifists. Whatever will be will be.

Either way there will be other causes to cling to once this whole tragic event is behind us. We could start out slowly by banning midnight movies and work our way up to sanctioning shyness, higher education and the lack of an internet presence.

Anything so we don't become complacent.

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