In 2016 we took a family vacation to Orlando the same week that a pop singer was murdered there, a young child was killed by an alligator at Disney and the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting occurred. The news from Orlando was about as grim as it could possibly be. And yet we carried on with our vacation, escaping into Harry Potter and roller coasters, aware of the darkness nearby but determined to enjoy our vacation.
Two more mass shootings in the last 24 hours and no end in sight. Unstable, generally white men lash out in acts of cowardly violence against innocents and we all reflect on the senselessness of it all. The world around us is more enraged and indignant than it was three summers ago, but more cynical too. We mock spineless politicians with their “thoughts and prayers” and grow hardened to what was once uncommon horrific violence. Change comes painfully slow in our society, but it comes. That common sense prevails is proven out over time offers no solace in El Paso or Dayton this morning.
Terms like “shelter in place”, “run, hide, fight” and “lockdown” were virtually unknown until twenty years ago when Columbine started this endless string of mass shootings. Now people know the types of weapons used and can figure out the manifesto of the madman by where and when it happened. Lower the flags yet again, order the flowers and light the candles. Just don’t mess with their right to bear arms. Mental health screening? Just a foot in the door and before you know it they’re taking everyone’s guns… I know the NRA response as well as I know the rest.
As with three years ago I’d prefer a vacation without the body count in my head. But if I had my way a lot of things would be different. Instead, of writing about an otherwise beautiful morning on Cape Cod I’m reflecting on mass shootings yet again. Looking up, I watch boats heading out of Buzzards Bay while others bob on the water fishing for whatever is biting today. The world marches on, collectively more jaded than yesterday morning. Maybe this time something will change. Or maybe tomorrow.