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Society and Tragedy

I don’t think there is anyone in America (or at least I hope) that has not felt an overwhelming sorrow over the tragic loss of life in Newtown, CT.

Then, across the world, the nation of India came to a halt, arrested in anger and disbelief at the brutal gang rape and termination of a 23-year-old woman’s life. so shocking was this act to that nation, that not only were New Year’s Eve celebrations cancelled, but also brought about a wave of protests, vigils and calls for the men accountable to be sentenced to death. An incredible tipping point, considering that violence is a daily occurrence in any society. However, the sheer inhumanity, indecency, cruelty, and utter pointlessness to these acts must be what sent both India and America over the societal edge.

Both countries now echo, “something needs to change”.

I cannot help but draw parallels at the reaction to both tragedies. As humans, we are deeply moved to answer the question older than Job himself, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” As societies, we want  to impart laws based on a consensus of morals- attempting to put in place protections and vindications for the innocent, while promising punishments for the deviant. This is why government exists.

In the States, individuals have pointed to either gun access, mental health awareness and intervention, family values, what some call a “lack of God” in schools, violent video games, movies, and the general media as the culprit for these mass shootings. As a society, a raging battle over gun control vs arming schools ensues.

In India, citizens are citing bollywood  films, musicians, and the way parents raise their boys for what they deem is a culture that blames the victim.  While as a society, options such as chemical castration are cropping up as ways in which to deal with rape, along with the much criticized fast-track courts and a hotline.

Reflecting on all of this, I was reminded of President’s Obama’s words, delivered at the vigil in Newtown, CT.

We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.

We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.

Surely we can do better than this.

It is to our testament, or at the very least something must be said to commend our human desire to prevent horrific injustices.

while personally I am a pacifist, and do not believe in the use of weapons for myself or my family, I cannot say with confidence that we always hit the mark as societies grappling with such horrific issues. With possible gun restrictions in the US on the horizon, the FBI reported a record number of background check requests from persons wishing to obtain firearms. So if restrictions pass, what, if anything, will that do with the assault weapons already out there?

Even so, even knowing that it would not end all evil, I would support a restriction on assault weapons. Because I want to do something, anything, that could possibly set this all right. Because I am, by nature, flawed and well intending.

If I could wave a wand, I would take every gun off of this planet and let it cruise with our space trash. Let them fire where no one can hear them. Let the bullets dance through the dark matter and unto nowhere.

As I type these words that seem meaningless and trite, the only thing I am really sure of is a deep sense of grief along with a tiny, but resilient inkling of hope.