Conflicted isn’t even the right word for how I feel today. Maybe there is no word that accurately reflects my feelings, and perhaps the feelings of a good portion of the American population today. But I like to think I’d recognize the right word if I saw it.
I thought, for a moment, that I recognized it in President Obama’s statement when he paused and said that at some point we’d have to address how someone who wanted to do harm could so easily obtain a gun. There was anger there, and I too felt anger. But in an instant I knew that anger wasn’t the complete feeling. This time the gun was obtained legally by the father and given as a gift to his son, the shooter. I don’t know how gun control laws would have changed that.
Maybe the feeling was intense sadness. Not personal grief, nothing like the families in Charleston are going through now, but still intense sadness. And a feeling of familiarity because we’ve seen this before. And it all seems so senseless, so hopeless.
Maybe that’s it; maybe what I’ve been feeling all day is a hopelessness. There seems no solution. The 24 hour news talks about race relations and how it’s so much worse now than it was when the President was elected in 2008. How hate seems to be so much more blatant.
Still I circle back to the issue of guns. I’m no proponent of guns. I don’t have any experience with them, and frankly they scare me. But I agree that people have a right to have a gun. And I agree that it’s hard to tell when a person is carrying evil or craziness or a combination inside themselves. This shooter exhibted signs, the news says, signs someone should have noticed.
Yet his father gave him a gun for his birthday.
I don’t know who is more crazy, the young man who committed the unthinkable last night, or the father who didn’t pay attention to the signs. The combination was lethal.
We need to open a dialog about guns and mental health. But if this country could not make progress on settling gun control or mental health issues after the 2012 massacre of more than two dozen innocent people in Sandy Hook what makes us think that we can have a relevant discussion now? When will it be bad enough for us to recognize that we have to sit down, throw out the politics, and talk.
So I’m back to anger. Maybe that’s what we all need to feel. Anger that it was so easy for the shooter to get a gun, so easy for him to kill innocents. Anger that we don’t have adequate mental health programs. Anger that we continue to cry and rant but don’t resolve. Anger that people’s lives are being lost while the politicians use this and other similar tragedies to support their own, preexisting stances which are bought and paid for by special interests.
Anger tinged with intense sadness, shadowed with hopelessness. That’s what I feel as the sun sets on a long and tragic day. How about you? What dialog are you willing to start or become involved in? What word accurately describes your feelings about all of this?
Let’s talk about it.