By nature, I’m a funny person, or at least try to be one. Whenever I see a piece of news, my first thought is, “How can I make this hilarious?” And so, the hardest things for me to write about are tragedies, like the mass shooting America endured on Sunday.
I’ll admit, I got really angry when I first saw the news that a gunman had killed 26 people just outside San Antonio. Considering that the massacre that happened a few weeks ago in Las Vegas was still in the back of my political mind, I wasn’t quite ready to process another mass shooting. As common as mass shootings are, there haven’t been two within 90 days of each other since long before the infamous Sandy Hook massacre in 2012.
Originally, I had another satirical piece planned for this week, this time making fun of President Trump’s Twitter having been deactivated for a short while. I had a headline (“Trump deactivated by White House staffer in last day on the job”) and even a first paragraph written. But I put my humorous side on hold for a day.
Today isn’t a day for jokes, especially not from me. It’s hard to keep a smile on my face all the time, but there are some points where it’s necessary to loosen up and be the guy to make everybody’s day a little brighter. However, violence hits close to home with me, and not just gun violence. Any kind of violence.
I wear my pacifism on my sleeve loud and proud. Since I adopted the practice last summer, I have not done anything or called for actions toward someone or something with the intent to injure. Violence, no matter what it’s in the name of, is morally wrong. And I wish every single other person in the world had that same thought with me.
I could stand up on a soapbox and call for stricter gun laws, or even for banning handguns altogether. I already went on a Twitter rant about both. But for once, I agree with Republicans who claim that it’s not the time to discuss gun control or any sort of gun policy whatsoever.
We need to have a deeper discussion about why violence exists at all in the world.
People hurt other people all the time for the most petty of reasons. Poor neighborhoods all over inner-city America are plagued with gang violence. Radical religious zealots in countries the world over justify persecution and murder with their twisted view of otherwise peaceful institutions. Husbands beat wives, bullies beat other children, the powerful beat the weak; it’s an epidemic. No human has ever gone their life without a violent thought.
I don’t want to say we’re hopeless as a species, because we are not. Humanity has survived in spite of its faults for millennia and there’s no sign that anything will change for centuries to come. But if we meet our collective demise, it’s not going to be because we all came together in one giant group hug and then suddenly dropped dead. Short of mass-extinction events, the only other plausible scenario where humanity meets its end is at the hands of one another, via a massive nuclear conflict that makes the planet uninhabitable.
That may appear to be far removed from a comparatively small-scale tragedy like a mass shooting or even just a fistfight, but violence adds up. Justifying one form of violence as “normal” will only become a gateway for making more things normal. Mass shootings are quite common in America and the media covers them nonstop; if the same thing were to happen with racial genocides in other countries, we wouldn’t be shocked when one group begins to wipe out another. We’d get used to it and turn a blind eye.
It’s an extremely slippery slope that doesn’t start with someone else. It starts with every single one of us. As we normalize violence more and more, we care less and less about the consequences. If you advocate for war, or any form of violence against other people, consider that.
I’m not going to ask you to consider gun control right now. If you disagree with me on the need to regulate guns, another mass shooting probably won’t change your mind. But make sure this latest mass shooting, which you very well may otherwise forget about by 2018, sticks to you. Even if we can’t solve guns, we can start to solve violence. Together. Because suffering doesn’t care about race, gender, religion or political affiliation.
Suffering only wants to break us down and ruin us. But I have confidence that we as humans are stronger than that. Harmony with one another is 100 percent achievable. And it starts with you.
Follow Thomas Denome on Twitter at @thomas_denome