Florida Shooting: America’s Shameful Apathy

Payton Williams
Voices Editor

On Valentine’s Day, at a high school in Parkland, Florida, a 19-year-old armed gunman killed at least 17 people.

There are many things people expect to be said in the wake of a tragedy like this, often political, and often mournful.

But nothing much is ever said about the speed with which we, the American people, now seem to forget tragedies like this almost as rapidly as they happen.

Nothing much is ever said about how desensitized we have become to this kind of violence in America.

Nothing much is said about how little we seem to really care that things like this happen, because events like this have become so commonplace in this country that school shootings are business as usual.

What do I mean by this?

So far, in 2018, there have been seven school shootings in America, and it is only mid-February.

That means that so far, in 2018, the United States has averaged more than one school shooting a week.

I’d like to say that again, and give it a chance to sink in:

In 2018, America has averaged more than one school shooting a week.

Most of these other incidents were quickly forgotten about, such as the shooting in Kentucky on Jan. 23, in which a 15-year-old opened fire in the atrium of the high school he attended, killing two students and wounding at least a dozen others.

And this most recent shooting, which occurred on Valentine’s Day, will be forgotten probably very nearly as quickly, after the gun control debate it will spark dies down and the American people inevitably run out of room in their hearts to mourn the loss of 17 lives.

Or until we move on to the next shooting which, at the rate we are currently going, will happen within a week.

But I want to consider, before we all move on with our lives as if this never happened, what it should mean to us, as citizens of this country, and as citizens of the world, when 17 people have their lives taken away from them.

I want to consider what it means when a man with a gun goes into what should be one of the safest places in the world, with the purpose of killing children.

And, finally, I want to consider what it means for all of us when we cease to care.

A few years ago, the Academy for Critical Incident analysis conducted a study on gun violence at schools around the world.

The study collected data from 36 countries.

Between the years 2000 to 2010, the study uncovered 57 incidences of shootings at schools in which there were two or more victims.

Of those 57 incidences, 28, or more than half, occurred in the U.S.

That means that, in the U.S., more mass school shootings occurred than in the other 35 countries surveyed combined.

I imagine readers are, by now, starting to see a pattern.

But these statistics lead me to ask a question I hoped I’d never have to ask:

Have American’s become more callous than anyone else in the world?

It has become my greatest fear, over the course of the last few years, that perhaps, after years of pride and progress, America has finally lost its soul.

And, as each shooting talked about on the news becomes more twisted and horrifying than the last in this country, and our response takes on a surreal, even more horrifying air of routine, I worry that my fears are coming true.

17 deaths is a huge number. When I look at it, I feel tears welling in my eyes. I feel a deep, sickening anger and despair, too, because I know by next week, I will have essentially forgotten this incident.

I will have forgotten the faces of the victims that flash across the screen on all the major news channels.

I will forget the images of parents crying. Parents who will now have to bury their children. Images of parents who can’t imagine what horrible cruelty has allowed this to happen to their children.

I’ll forget all of this.

And so will the rest of us, as we go to our jobs and to our classes.

In just a few weeks, it will be as though none of this ever happened. As though the victims and their parents never existed.

And the soul of this great country will die a little more.

And we can continue to talk about gun control, and we can continue to talk about our “thoughts and prayers” going to the families and friends of those involved, but the truth is, we do not care.

The truth is that, for us, this is business as usual now.

Seventeen people die, we get our coffee, we go to work, we go home, we go to bed.

And next week, it’ll happen again, and our politicians will talk about their “thoughts and prayers,” and more gun control legislation will not be passed.

Because, after all, this is just another day in modern America.


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