And we send our children off to school each day, feeling assured — unless we send them to schools with metal detectors and guards patrolling the halls — that they will be safe.
Then we are awakened and shocked as journalists and citizen journalists pummel us about a massacre. We have a measure of disbelief: this can’t happen in our country. After a few weeks, something new comes on the scene after we have become exhausted by the memorial services, the surviving relatives telling us that those who were destroyed will now never live to fulfill the promise that was so obvious to all who knew them.
In countries around the world like Syria, such acts of murder occur every day, and they are often choreographed by groups who seek control of land, of governments and of other resources. And we skim over the stories of these atrocities, believing that they occur at a place foreign to us which has little or nothing to do with us.
As a nation, we are far from perfect: we have a past that is sometimes checkered. But there are many of us, however, who want our issues addressed, our missteps analyzed and corrected.
When an otherwise intelligent young man decides to plot and carry out a mass murder, we know that he has a mental problem that goes beyond the understanding of most of us.
Do we respond to this news by staying in our homes, refusing to attend a movie or a football game?
No, we don’t because as imperfect as our country is, we know that we have men and women in uniform who are there to protect us from those who want to destroy us. Of course, in the military there are problems with those who use their power to coerce sex from those under their command. Also, there are the renegade soldiers in the Middle East who through their acts bring shame on us and jeopardize our relationships with the leaders and general populations of the countries where our troops are stationed.
We don’t stay home because we trust most of the persons in the theatre or at that game, just as we trust most of the persons who join us driving on our highways. Additionally, we trust most of the teachers and administrators who work in our schools to do the right thing.
Let’s move on with our lives, knowing that most of us are doing the best we can do and controls are in place to rout and punish those who do not conform to our sense of what is ethical and right, what our laws dictate.
We will always have differences on a host of issues, capital punishment, same-sex unions, abortions. No one ever said that our lives, our choices, our actions would not be convoluted, complex, contradictory at times. There is no utopia, no Shangri-La: there is only our life and we should embrace it with a reality and a strong measure of optimism. To do otherwise is to waste our precious years and the years of those whose lives we touch.