July 23, 2012

Thoughts on the Mass Murder in Aurora

CuffsI wanted to wait a few days to make it a little more likely that whatever I said here wouldn't just be a rant. I'm not sure I waited long enough. As interesting as it may be to ponder the possible motives of the killer, I find such efforts premature. Instead, my thoughts are with the friends and family members of the victims of this tragedy. I sincerely hope they gain full access to whatever support their local religious and secular communities can muster. Returning to normal is not easy, but it will happen.

I am very frustrated that our nation seems unwilling to address our violent culture in any meaningful way. Sensible gun policy is certainly one piece of this, but it is far from the whole of what we need to do. President Obama can stand up and talk about justice and his god, but it is always justice after the fact. We'll eagerly punish the wrongers, but we aren't interested in any sort of preventive measures (especially if they cost anything).

Sensible gun policy is desperately needed, but there are a number of other variables that must also be addressed. Some examples include:
  • The U.S. has been in a perpetual state of war for some time.
  • We have extremely violent entertainment media.
  • We are taught from an early age that some sort of god is on our side in whatever conflict we choose, giving divine sanction to our acts of aggression.
  • The U.S. is one of the few Western nations that continues to murder its own citizens (i.e., the death penalty).
  • Long-term unemployment, a dismal economy, and rising educational costs and incarceration rates alienate our youth.
  • We stood idly by while our country committed acts of torture in our name, and those responsible have still not been held accountable.
Events like this mass murder can happen in any community and will continue to happen until we reach the point of making some real changes and learn the lessons of previous incidents. We will never eliminate violence, but we do have a moral responsibility to at least try to reduce it.

Now is not the time for our elected officials to make hasty decisions fueled by emotion, but it is an appropriate time for us to let our leaders know that we want them to make a serious public commitment to work on the problem in the near future. How many more need to die before we will demand this?