This morning, half the voices on television, and the radio and social media will be saying that it’s too soon to talk about doing anything to stop more incidents like this fresh Valentine’s Day massacre. And the other half will already be lowering their heads and shrugging their shoulders in acceptance that nothing will be done. After all, we’ve seen it before. We’ve seen it bigger. We’ve seen it even more horrible. And nothing happened then. Nothing will happen now. Just like last time, and the other time and all the times before.
And half of both sides will be saying that you really shouldn’t politicize tragedy, and drawing themselves up to do nothing with dignity. Hopes. Prayers. Light another candle. Lower that flag. Have a moment of silence. As if silence is not just the only thing we can do, but the right thing to do. As if piously standing aside while clean-up crews scrub the blood of children off the linoleum is actually the best the nation can hope for.
And we will act as if in not acting, we’re upholding some grand principle—and not just admitting that we are a nation of lazy cowards so afraid of confronting a difficult issue that we’d rather send kids back to school past the pockmarked walls and playing fields nourished with fragments of bone. We’d rather risk our children, and ourselves, than do the hard work of coming up with a solution.
It’s not because doing nothing is the right thing, but because it’s the easy thing. It always is. It’s easier to ignore sexual assault. Easier to ignore racial injustice. Easier to turn your back on the national slaughter. Easier to accept that your kids may never come home from school than to offend your uncle or neighbor or friend by trying to make things better. After all, taking a public stand against continuing along this path would be uncomfortable. Someone might say something. So we watch those poor kids scream on the television, and then we do … nothing.
But let’s not. Let’s just not. Let’s stop being the most spineless nation on the face of the Earth and take up the challenge of dealing with a difficult issue like adults.
We’ve tried turning the country into an armed camp, where the guns outnumber the people. That hasn’t worked. And the only response has been—the only laws that have passed—are those that make it easier to have more guns in more places more of the time. And it’s well past time to admit that those very laws are making things worse.
Let’s try something else.