Another Massacre Shocks Our Sensibilities – It’s Overtime for True Leadership
BY JACK LEVINE
Saturday’s mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, NY is the most recent in our nation’s horrific string of massacres fueled by hate and perpetrated by individuals who left a trail of indicators of violent ideation. The accused shooter, while pleading not guilty at his first court appearance, is reported to have signaled his racially motivated hatred through a long series of Internet postings and manifestoes.
These criminal acts that have infected our nation are consistently motivated by vicious hatred as their dominant emotion. Murder is the ultimate act of rage. Mass murder of innocent victims is far and away the most heinous of all crimes.
The details of this most recent rampage are still unfolding while medical personnel are feverishly trying to attend to the survivors.
According to The New York Times, “The accused gunman’s racist manifesto outlined a plan to kill Black people and referred to “replacement theory”.
Payton S. Gendron, an 18-year-old white man who the police say shot 13 people at a Buffalo grocery store, had posted a hate-filled manifesto online that included an account of detailed planning for the attack and an explanation of his motives and inspiration, according to a senior federal law enforcement official.
I am not in a position to analyze the facts…that task will fall to experts far more qualified than I. My perspective is one of an interested citizen and policy advocate who is committed to positive outcomes despite the challenges we face.
The searing emotions felt by family members, witnesses and a wide diversity of individuals in the affected communities, nationally and in all corners of the world are too complicated to express.
What is not complicated and undeniable is the deep feeling of sorrow…if only this and other acts of mass murder did not happen. But the reality is that we live at a time when the death and wounding of innocents has become all too routine.
“Like the tale of the Emperor Who Wore No Clothes, it’s taking young voices stating the obvious to bring attention to the inadequacies of transparent power.”
We live with a generation of young people whose lives have been imperiled too many times…almost to the extent that they have a fatalistic expectation of their future. Fear is commonplace in too many young minds.
When schools, houses of worship, stores and concerts are transformed into shooting galleries, we must no longer believe that the rhetoric of self-righteous political voices is enough to make positive change in our laws and systems.
This agonizing series of mass murders plagues our nation. Hate is a perverse and powerful motivator. Fighting the forces of evil must be a priority for everyone who cares about our individual and collective futures. Here is a partial listing of the sites of mass shootings over the past few years…
Charleston, South Carolina
Sutherland Springs, Texas
Las Vegas, Nevada
San Bernardino, California
Virginia Beach, Virginia
El Paso, Texas
Columbia, South Carolina
New York, New York
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Here is A Complete List of U.S. Mass Shootings. In every single one of those mass shootings, the perpetrator used an AR-15 or other semi-automatic weapon to maximize the impact of the slaughter.
We should join forces with our law enforcement, public health allies, reform advocates and families affected by firearms violence in this fight to bring needed legal redirection.
Some voices claim that firearms are not the problem, criminality is. Defending our own families and property is a priority, but let’s admit that the proliferation of firearms feed their availability to criminals through theft and illegal sales. This lethal epidemic of domestic terrorism threatens us all.
It is our first responders who put their lives at risk every day, and their counsel is vital to our safety and security.
I believe that the multi-faceted violence issue deserves our attention so that our elected officials hear the voices of citizens who support a balanced approach to this vital public policy debate.
Legitimate gun ownership for self-protection, historic collections and sport hunting is not at issue….but what is clear is we are at a point in our lives when logical lines of defense must be drawn.
“The ultimate tragedy in times of turmoil is not just the oppression and cruelty by bad people, but the silence of the good people .”
– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Silence is not golden…and may prove deadly. The debate should not be whether any change is needed…but to what degree are we willing to recognize that slaughter can be prevented if we mesh quality mental health services and public safety measures with strong and enforceable firearms laws.
The powerful gun lobby should be questioned as per their role in the proliferation of high power firearms that are designed for war, not sport or self defense.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families” can no longer be acceptable from those who refuse to take responsibility for weak laws and insufficient mental health funding.
There is a swelling chorus of discontent which is growing into a true movement descrying the absence of leadership in our traditional political hierarchies.
Like the tale of the Emperor Who Wore No Clothes, it’s taking young voices stating the obvious to bring attention to the inadequacies of transparent power.
When hateful and antagonistic words are uttered by people in power, we should not be surprised when violence erupts.
Mutual respect is an achievable ideal…Rejection of racism is necessary. We must advocate listening and learning across the generations so grievances are understood and solutions sought. The voices of reason must be raised.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Director, GRAND Partners