We are all saddened at the murders of so many beautiful innocents by another innocent, if you will — a disturbed young man of that same community. We should all be mourning in some respect for this tragedy. However, I am uncomfortable with the public display of civic sympathy that our city and many others are having around the country.
It seems that we feel for what we can see — young faces and grieving families who look like us. These awful events seem far too frequent, as do the widely public reactions afterward. To me there is an aspect of media-enlarged empathy that approaches a civic emotional overinvolvement, a kind of subtle cultural narcissism, that makes most of us feel better but may actually be unwise and unhealthy. Perhaps it’s even a sort of morbid celebration of a tragedy that really is beyond the normal range of individual and local civic or social concerns.
More importantly, these occasions may even be a displaced and afflicting accommodation to the unhealthy social conditions and the lonely suffering of so many people in our nation, despite our nation’s many entertainments, interests, and so-called affluence.
Awful gun violence and death haunts so many communities everywhere every day, and sometimes explodes even in places of assured civility and safety. This darkness is the ongoing legacy of our country’s political, moral, and spiritual ignorance and indifference — the indifference and inertia that maintains our nation’s sad status quo of unnecessary suffering, suspicion, stupidity, anger, and death.
Dozens continue to die unseen by senseless violence every day. We can grieve for it all. Now what do we do?