We Don’t Care About Dead Kids

Another school shooting this week. According to NPR, it’s the 27th time this year that a gunman opened fire on a school and killed people. Mass murdered them.  Dead kids.  And we don’t care.

That may sound harsh, but the sad reality of our national response shows it to be true. By refusing to address the issue of gun violence in any meaningful way, we’re saying that we’re ok with things as they are. We’re saying we don’t care about kids getting murdered at school. Or adults getting murdered in Buffalo. And the list goes on.

If we did, we would fix the problem. We would elect politicians who would at least recognize and address the issue. 

But we don’t.  Our inaction betrays us.

At the core of the issue is a governmental failure to help solve the problem-  and that’s on us, the voters. 

Why do we continue electing fierce partisans? Why is it nearly impossible for a mature, complex thinker and problem solver to win a campaign? Why is it unacceptable to support good ideas from the other side of the aisle?

We stack our government roster with politicians instead of public servants, people whose skills are better suited for the stage than the halls of Congress. 

And we keep doing it. Nothing changes. More kids are killed. Adults too.

Our priorities are evident in who we elect. 

We can cry, pray, and argue all we want as the next shooting approaches, but until our politics change, the message we’re sending is that the routine murder of school kids is somehow acceptable, and that we don’t care about dead kids.

I sure hope I’m wrong, but history is on my side.

For more stories, visit Todd’s blog at www.fiveoclockshadow.life

14 thoughts on “We Don’t Care About Dead Kids

  1. This problem of voter/governmental failure goes wayyyyyy beyond school mass murders. Let’s not forget the ten killed at a Buffalo supermarket in a racist attack just this month; let’s not blockout the killing of nine parishioners at a Black Charleston, SC church in 2015; let’s not overlook the eleven murdered in an antisemitic rampage in a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018: let’s not draw a blank over the slaying of twenty mostly Latinos at a Walmart in El Paso in 2019. I could easily go on, and on, and on, and on. But I think the point is made.

    Todd is correct when he says the problem is “on us, the voters.” But the root cause goes much deeper than that. You can’t legislate moral behavior. This is a cultural problem that is passed down from generation to generation. It shows up on Twitter and other social media feeds. You see it on the network news and tabloid opinion pages. You hear it in conversations both hushed and over the megaphone. You even think it during fits of anger, rage and sadness.

    Putting laws (and punishments) in place to prevent this sort of ugly behavior is a good start. But laws only address the symptoms not the underlying problems of our society.

    1. I agree with everything you said James. Government can’t fix our cultural mess on its own, but we should be able to count on it to at least help in the ways that it can. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

  2. There is a pendulum in society and we swing regularly from liberal to conservative. Because society changes under the pendulum, there are also libertarian/authoritarian and populist/elitist component,s as well as others.. It never ends up over the same place twice. The faster the change, the more different the end points of the swing.

    The internet exacerbates this. In the past there were few media outlets and the national news sources all pretty much agreed with each other. When there are few news sources politicians and leaders have to appeal to the center. A limited number of information sources meant that people who took an extreme position were constantly faced with the reality that most people did not agree with them and that the facts on the ground don’t comport with their version of reality. It kept the population of the fringe low.

    The internet changed all this. Instead of having to share the world with everyone else, we all get to live in our own bubble. We don’t get challenged and if someone tries, they get shouted down. People of a particular persuasion get concentrated virtually in a way that resembles a cult. Members of a bubble seek reinforcement of their ideas from fellow members. It is easy to see how bubbles become more extreme as members modify their opinions in order to better fit in. Instead of small communities, these bubbles can now number in the millions and each member reinforces each other member’s orthodoxy.

    The primary trait of a cult is that ***the need to belong trumps everything else.*** It distorts reality. The information received is vetted and then rewritten to match the group-think. Facts turn into opinions and opinions turn into “alternate facts.” This happens both on an individual level and on a group level. It is a behavior inherent to any echo chamber. You don’t need a grand conspiracy for it to happen – it is self creating – but leaders and politicians and “influencers” are more than happy to take advantage of it.

    And that is where we are today. What used to be a continuous spectrum has evolved into discrete blobs of belief, none of whom feel a need to change because their social and emotional needs are being met entirely by people with exactly the same ideologies.

    What we think of as the left is just as prone to this as the right. But the right – the populist right in particular – sees itself slipping off into extinction and so fights back with far more intensity. You can balance out somewhat smaller numbers with greater commitment and that is how the far right wins.

    If you were to go to Texas, you’d find that the parents there love their children and care about them as much as any other state. Guns have always existed in the country in large numbers but the constant drumbeat of mass shooting has not. Their conclusion is that the problem is not one of guns but of society evolving to where it seems a reasonable thing to do to go forth and kill others in rage when one should be taking stock of one’s own shortcomings. And they place the blame for this social change squarely on the country’s left.

    1. What an interesting comment, Fred. I think back to when there were 3 networks and therefore, yes, we more or less agreed on the facts. And you are right about the deep stories as sociologist Arlie Hochschild named them. And the one she named from the right that I think matches what you are saying is that the left are line cutters – that the right is patiently waiting in line for their turn at the American Dream and the left keeps promoting the agenda so that others can cut the line.

      But I like what you are saying about personable accountability. Somehow we’ve let that get lost in this era without terrible consequences. Tragic!

    2. Thanks Fred- your comments would make for a very interesting blog post on their own.

  3. Great post, Todd. So well-written and it points out the truth like a blemish on our forehead. We’d prefer not to know it’s there but we’ve got to acknowledge it in order to treat it. So incredibly sad and tragic.

    1. Thanks Wynne. I love the comparison to a blemish on our forehead- very fitting.

  4. I hate confrontation and violence, and especially guns, yet I am glad that the US and many other countries are helping to arm Ukraine. We do need to be able to defend ourselves.

    When I was a teacher, there was talk about having teachers carry guns. Glad that one was defeated! Great Britain has police that do not carry guns. An unarmed civilian and an unarmed officer are less likely to end up wounded or dead.

    Thank you, Todd, for exploring this important issue. 🙂

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