While studying journalism at USC, I learned that every world event or happening isn’t news. My professor at the time taught my fellow Trojans and me that the media will usually only pounce on the unusual—the event that doesn’t happen every day. It’s not out of the ordinary for the postman to be bitten by the neighborhood dog, but I’ve never heard of the postman biting the neighborhood dog. And if that ever did happen, trust me; it would be front page news. This aphorism came to mind when I learned that there was another shooting rampage, and this time in my backyard.
Last Friday, in Santa Monica, California, just a few miles from my day job, a lone gunman killed five people and himself. I discovered this story while surfing the internet. The first thing I did was shake my head in disgust and say to myself, Wow, another one, and more lives lost. What is going on? What I didn’t do was turn to my coworker and say, “Girl, there was another shooting!” Nor did I say anything to the receptionist when I made my way to the office break room, in spite of the story beaming back at me from the large flat screen television on the wall in our lobby. Yes, it was horrific and gut-wrenching, but somehow, it just didn’t move me enough to want to talk about it. I waited for my eyes to sting and tear up. I wanted to get a sinking feeling in my gut. I longed to be filled with rage. But I felt nothing, and that scared me.
Have I become inured to the violence in our society? Has every story about multiple people being gunned down become as common place as the neighborhood dog taking a bite out of the mail carrier? Why couldn’t I feel pain at the thought of five people being savagely murdered? Perhaps could it be because just six months ago a crazed gunman mercilessly mowed down twenty children like pins in a bowling alley. Maybe I’m all cried out. Maybe after shedding a cascade of tears for the innocent children in Sandy Hook, I have no more. Could it be because I spent every ounce of fury in me when I heard about the movie goers in Colorado being gunned down last July? Just the thought of them kicked back in their seats while they gulped down soda and ate buttery popcorn—momentarily oblivious to the monster that stood before them—intent on taking their lives with impunity— made me want to go ballistic. Or maybe the gut wrenching angst and sorrow I felt for the marathon runners who lost their lives and limbs has me all tapped out of emotion.
One gory story after another. So many that they have meshed into a woeful web of horror, leaving me numb and cold, wondering what’s next and who’s next? Could it be me, you, the family next door? Only God knows. I just pray that it stops and that we all find the courage to do something about it. Now what that something is, that’s a personal choice. Debates about gun control and what to do about the mentally unstable, rage in Washington and at our dinner tables. Coming up with a solution is not easy, but we have to at least try before stoicism sets in for good and we unwittingly give madmen carte blanche to maim, murder, and massacre, at will.