Time to admit we are not a civilized society
By Michael M. Barrick
More children and a teacher have been killed in a school shooting in Texas. We will express our collective outrage for a news cycle or two then go on about our business of letting it happen.
It is time, then, to admit that the school shootings – averaging at least once a week now in the USA – reveal that we are not a civilized society; what we have become, rather, are bystanders and even enablers to a Culture of Death.
This is no longer a debate about gun rights or school safety. Rather, it is a debate about what has gone wrong in America. How have we come to accept a culture of death?
Here are just some of the examples of how we have come to accept and even embrace our culture of death.
- Our granddaughter, who will have her 9th birthday this week, has lived in a nation at war her whole life.
- Our wars have caused death and great emotional and physical injuries to tens of thousands of young Americans; and, hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and throughout the Middle East have died or been made refugees since we have launched our undeclared wars in the region.
- Capital punishment.
- A health systems industry instead of a healthcare system designed to care for every American
- Environmental degradation, public health disasters and sacrificial zones for the fossil fuel industry.
- Funding cuts to mental health services.
- Poor and vulnerable populations shut out from basic government services.
- Food deserts.
- Storing our elders in warehouses to die when they become inconvenient.
- Weekly shootings in our schools, along with mass murders elsewhere, as in Colorado, Florida, South Carolina and many other places.
We have truly reached the end of our rope on this issue. We need leaders who will help us come together. It can no longer be a binary choice. Children or guns is not the question before us. We have many questions that we have, up to this point, ignored. Can we sit at the same table? Do we have the courage to say we are a culture of death? Are we courageous enough to explore why? Are we willing to make the tough choices that show we value life?
Right now, those leaders are not found in legislative bodies, governor mansions or the White House. Those leaders are the friends of the very children being shot down. Let’s follow the examples of our children. They have proven to be far wiser than the elected adults. The students get what the “honorables” don’t – if we don’t stop school shootings, we will have demonstrated, beyond any doubt, that we value profit over life. Our children will grow up knowing their lives just aren’t important.
We must do better. Adults are screaming at each other, when we should be talking. We are setting terrible examples for our children. No wonder they have concluded the only option is violence. We must put every potential solution on the table, regardless of how unpopular.
When Active Shooter Drills become routine exercises for school children – as they have – then we have clearly become a culture that does not value life. We are a culture of death. We needn’t look around anymore for leaders. They already exist. They are the students. We must lock elbows with them so strongly that the alliance can’t be defeated. We must all work to identify and address the root causes of our culture of death. Only then can we help turn our society into one that again values life – at all stages, in all circumstances.