Monday, October 21, 2013

The Threshold of Terror

Well, here we go again.

Today, there was a shooting at a middle school. A 12-year-old boy open fire at a Nevada middle school killing a math teacher and wounding two boys before he took his own life. You can click here for more on this horrible story.

But it begs the question once again in the face of needless gun violence and the loss of innocent life, when will enough be enough? When will hit our threshold of terror and say, once and for all, "This stops here"?

Sadly, we did not hit that threshold today.  Apparently not enough people were killed.

Now let me make it clear: one death to this kind of gun violence is one too damn many. But as the death toll has mounted unanswered in the wake of one shooting after another after another, our propensity for outrage become less except when a new level of evil, insanity and death is reached. 

I've seen this played out before.  We are all horrified by some new level of tragedy and madness.  For example, the gunman who opened fire in a theater in Denver. There was our benchmark. A large number of innocent people dead. Any subsequent shootings (and there were subsequent shootings) were measured against that mark: "Well, at least it's not as bad as Denver."  No, we didn't think that made senseless murder OK simply because the number of lives lost was less. But it is how we cope. So Denver remained the benchmark for unexpected slaughter through gun violence.

Until Newtown.

The blow to the gut from that horrific day of death and terror was doubly painful. Even more dead, many of them children. This was our new level of outrage. Denver was bad but how can that compare to the brutal murder of children?

Of course, it shouldn't be this way. Not just that people can't go about their lives without being at risk of being shot by a nutcase with a gun.  But that such incidents of death and mayhem and madness happen so often now, we have to find new levels to engage our outrage. Because we just can't stay THAT mad for THAT long.

But maybe we should. It's what the lobbyists for the NRA count on as it sweetens the respective pots of legislators friendly to the gun industry. We the people will rise up in rage when the next threshold of terror has been breached but that rage is impotent against the unyielding gun lobby. So we spend our energies as they spend their money and sadly, their pockets are deeper than our capacity for rage.

Today, there was a shooting at a middle school. Thankfully, ONLY two people lost their lives. It could've been much worse, like Newtown. And besides, what can we do?

That's the way life is these days.

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