I have reached a point where the cycle of tragedy, death and destruction in America no longer stimulates an emotional response. Another shooting in the United States, this one leaving 13 people dead, and I’m left feeling somewhat empty about the whole damn thing. Much like every other mass-shooting, the media orchestrates the tragedy in a way that attempts to pander sympathy and consideration for those families suffering at the hands of evil. After Newtown and Aurora, and the countless violent incidents in between, I do not believe I can express much concern or sympathy at all for these events. It is no longer a reaction of shock or disbelief, but rather, “Oh that happened again?”
The nation was unquestionably horrified by the violence focused on children at the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting, and I will offer that it significantly changed the way I think. The thought of a disturbed young adult conducting an armed invasion of an elementary school, is horrifying. The scene of shots ringing through halls and children being massacred even more so. The events even compelled me to scribe a letter of condolence that was mailed to the PO box specifically created in the wake of Newtown. That being said, the public outcry for progressive action fell mostly upon deaf ears, and has since retreated back into the corners of society after being beaten soundly by gun activists. If the death of twenty children isn’t enough to change minds, what is? Will another call for action come because the Navy Yard was a mere half-mile from the nation’s capital – or because this happened on a relatively secure military compound? It cannot be the latter, as we’ve already had an incident at Fort Hood where Nidal Hasan took the lives of 13 people. Nor should it be the former, as violence will find a way into every town, city, or state regardless of where it is. Investigative forces will plumb the same avenues for motive, and will likely find none. The media will conjure reasons why they suspect Aaron Alexis committed this act – but they too will never reach the full answer. If we haven’t changed based upon incidents in the past, what gives the American public reason to believe this will change anything?
To put things in perspective, 277 people have been shot and killed in Chicago since the beginning of 2013.  This isn’t grabbing national headlines because many of these murders occur in low-income projects where gang-violence is an every day occurrence. People fail to recognize that this is the greater tragedy at work in America because it is the result of a number of smaller failures in the social structure. Poor educational standards, a decrease in interpersonal relationships, an advance in the alternate-reality/self identification problems of social media, and a fundamental decrease in decency, morality, and responsibility all factor into these senseless shootings and deaths. There are no simple fixes to either the gang related deaths in Chicago, or the mass-killings that pockmark our country’s recent history. However we need to start seriously looking at plausible, rational, and intelligent solutions. We need to first relieve ourselves of the predisposed notions of what causes this type of violence. Politicians and pundits alike are quick to condemn guns or violent video games—rather than the numerous gaps in our educational and legal systems that allow men like Alexis or Adam Lanza to carry out their heinous acts. We must also come to realize that the same media that conjures up our sympathetic response is also advocating violence as entertainment in movies and television shows. In Chicago, there is no real hope for many of the young men and women caught up in gang warfare—and the life is often glorified as the “only way.” It has already been reported that Navy shooter Aaron Alexis had several run ins with law enforcement related to firearms, and was repeatedly referred to mental health programs. Surely not all of these deaths are preventable, but circulating one over another based solely on the fanatical media “tragedy-whoring” is disgraceful and misappropriated.
I am fast approaching the day where these mass-shootings no longer hold any bearing on my emotional response. Each one is exploited as a means to accrue higher ratings, and to expunge any memory of prior incidents, however terrible. We move on, and we’ll mourn this Navy Yard shooting for two months until we either become distracted by something else – or another person picks up a gun and decides to instill fear in the heart of innocents.