Brown: End rhetoric of silence

BY MARCUS BROWN | JULY 29, 2015 5:00 AM

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Adding to the litany of rampage killings experienced in the United States, the shooting that resulted in the death of two and injury of nine in Lafayette, Louisiana, last week has reignited the need for a conversation about the rampant acts of violence in this country. It has become clear that we live in a country that allows the sickness and burden we all carry to fester and propagate in an environment saturated with readily available instruments of death until it culminates in horrific acts of violence.

In the aftermath of each and every catastrophe, we ask ourselves what could have been done to prevent this and who is to blame as though we haven’t run through this script numerous times. We look toward gun-control laws, history of mental illness, etc., hoping to gain some further insight into how these events occur only to find that we are no closer to averting the next tragedy than we were in the time before the current tragedy that captured our fleeting attention. How long will it take for it to sink in that this strategy is not working?

Hoping to isolate and identify symptoms solely without placing any effort placed on addressing the actual malady will do nothing to cure it. We cannot hope to keep guns out of the hands every individual who wishes to inflict widespread harm on society, nor can we hope to treat every person with mental illness that may escalate to the point of harming others on large scales. There is no preemptive and sure-fire method to prevent tragedies like those that occurred in Lafayette, Charleston, or Aurora other than empathy and compassion for every human being.

It is impossible to prevent the failings in one another once they have reached the point at which lives are readily taken. We don’t need an increased number of laws and screenings to maintain a society in which we do not indiscriminately kill one another. According to the Mass Shooting Tracker, a crowd-sourced project that records incidents of mass shootings, there were 283 mass shootings in 2014 and already upwards of 200 this year.

There has been a mass shooting for every day of the year thus far.

Few of these incidents make the news, and so we miss our cues to be heartbroken and reflective about what could only be described as a widespread failure on the part of our society. We simply don’t care. We flaunt our humanity in the wake of tragedy and put on the façade that from this point on we will rally together to overcome the abhorrence we have been forced to experience or witness only to return that status quo that idly enables such horrors to happen.

We have become so acclimated to the inevitably of shock and horror that we forget we can prevent them. We forget the shootings that have happened, have just happened, and if we are being honest, we have forgotten already the shootings that will happen.

We can pray and bow our heads in silence, as certain figures in public sphere suggest, until that silence is broken by the next onslaught of gunfire that will undoubtedly come, or we can genuinely try to engage with one another in an effort to understand why it is we cannot live with one another anymore.  

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