Unfortunately, mass shootings have become a common occurrence in the United States, with two more recently taking place in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Even if we’re no longer shocked and surprised by such happenings, they still cause both fear and outrage, and every new shooting renews our efforts to demand change.
Yet change doesn’t seem to come. No matter how many shootings take place, our elected officials do virtually nothing, largely because we’re so divided in our opinions of what needs to be done. What, exactly, are our politicians supposed to do?
Is it a gun issue? Do we need stricter gun laws? More relaxed gun laws? This debate brings out the worst in many of us, as we can’t resist the temptation to argue with strangers on Facebook and Twitter about gun laws. I’m not enough of a gun expert to know what would work. I’d like to think that solving this problem is as easy as passing new legislation, yet it seems like those people who are intent on killing others will find a way to do so, law or no law.
Is it a mental health issue? There’s a lot more that we as a society can do about mental health. Yet other countries have mental health issues and don’t endure all the mass shootings that we do. And we can’t blame every shooting on the fact that someone was dealing with a mental health issue. Most people who deal with such issues don’t go out and shoot people.
No, I believe the issue is a much deeper one: It’s an evil issue. We live in a fallen world; ever since Cain killed Abel, there have been people who have a disregard for human life and have set out to do harm to others.
I was a teenager when the Columbine High School shootings took place back in 1999; that was the event that opened the eyes of many Americans to the issue of gun violence and mass shootings. In the aftermath of this event, I remember many of us scrambling to find answers, to find someone or something to blame: inadequate gun laws, neglectful parents, fellow students who bullied the perpetrators, and violent video games, to name some of them.
Fast forward 20 years later, as we deal with more mass shootings, and we’re still doing the same thing: looking to blame anyone or anything besides the evil intent of the person who committed the crime. Some of us still just cannot come to terms with the fact that there are evil people in this world bent on doing things that are harmful to others.
So what are we supposed to do about this? What can we do to ensure that this never happens again? Well, I wish I had an easy answer, but I’m afraid I don’t. The only way we will prevent more evil from happening is if every single person chooses kindness and respect for human life. Unfortunately, not every person will do so, but the more people who do, the stronger the force of good will become and the harder it will be for evil to prevail.
One thing that we as Americans all need to work on is being united in this regard. Mass shootings are harmful to our society because people lose their lives, but they are also harmful because they divide the rest of us. Instead of directing our anger toward the person responsible, we aim it at each other, attacking one another online or even in person over gun laws or other related issues.
This has to stop. When we bicker with each other, nothing gets resolved. Our politicians – most of whom are solely motivated by winning the next election – talk a big game but in the end do nothing because they’re divided, too. If we can at least all find some common ground on the fact that we’re against such disregard for human life, maybe we will start to make some progress.
So instead of fighting each other with tweets and memes online, let’s unite for a real fight, one against evil in all its forms. We will never stop every bad thing from happening, yet if there’s one thing we all should be able to unite about, it’s the fact that we will no longer accept evil and disregard of human life. Only when we as a whole make this decision will we see real change.
Brian Johnston lives in St. Joseph with his wife and two children. You can find him on Facebook at facebook.com/brianjohnstonwriter.