Before I went to bed last night, the news broke: Someone had opened fire at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, and several people had been shot. I shook my head, turned off the TV, and went to bed. How sad it is that in this nation we have become so overwhelmed with news of mass shootings that we merely put the thought out of our minds and make our way along to other things?
Shortly after waking this morning, I again turned on MSNBC and saw that nine people had been killed by a man we now know as Dylann Roof. Roof allegedly believed that black people in America are the problem and even told one woman at the church where he committed this act of hatred and terror:
“You rape our women and you’re taking over our country — and you have to go.”
And then he opened fire with a handgun he received for his birthday in April. He was given a gun to celebrate the day of his birth, the day he entered this world.
Today, he has extinguished the lives of nine innocent people who had gathered to study the Bible.
The usual platitudes have been spoken in response to this incident, and more words will be poured out in the days to come. But I think what President Obama said earlier today is what we need to keep firmly planted in our minds:
“Any death of this sort is a tragedy, any shooting involving multiple victims is a tragedy. There is something particularly heartbreaking about death happening at a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace. I’ve had to make statements like this too many times. Communities have had to endure tragedies like this too many times. Once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun. … We as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”
Did you hear that NRA? Are you listening? Members of Congress who refuse to pass any sensible legislation which would make it harder for people such as Dylann Roof to own a gun, did you hear what the President said? Will you now go back to ostrich mode and hide your heads in the sand while more people die?
It is time to admit what we would rather deny: We are one of the most violent nations on the face of the earth, yet we claim to be the most civilized, the most advanced. Does a truly enlightened society let Sandy Hook and Charleston happen again and again and again? If we do, then we should probably embrace a new belief and declare it to be our real way of life, our only true religion.
Nihilism is what we embrace when we refuse to address the issue of gun violence in America. Is that who and what we want to be?
This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org.