Time’s Running Out

It’s not local, thank goodness, but we’d have to have been living in a cave out in the wilderness not to track on the shootings that have been occurring like clockwork in the United States.

Whether it’s the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando or the shootings by police officers in Minnesota and Baton Rouge, La., or the targeted shooting of police officers in Dallas, Texas, or the shooting Monday in a courthouse in Michigan – and by the time you read this, the list is likely to have gotten longer – the death toll keeps rising.

If we don’t think we have an ever-growing polarized culture in this country, we need to think again. If we don’t think that vigilante action is growing, we’re wrong. And if we think that demonizing a particular group – whether it’s police officers or Muslims – doesn’t appeal to the worst side of people, we’re kidding ourselves.

There are no easy answers. Guns are easily accessible. Funding and treatment for persons with mental illness are in seriously short supply. And it doesn’t take a lot of effort to single out a group for blame, while we absolve ourselves of any responsibility.

But we need to question whether we are comfortable becoming used to a daily news report of the latest shooting, whether we are willing to accept that police officers are targets, whether we are going to change our shopping or vacation habits to avoid the latest type of targeted location. Soon enough, nowhere will be safe, not movie theaters, not shopping malls, not courthouses, not police stations, not the sidewalks or the streets.

We know a local family who cancelled plans this month to vacation in a nearby big city because of their concerns about potential violence. We’re certain they’re not alone. That’s not a way we want to live.

The United States is dividing into a “them vs. us” mentality, where one group or another is characterized as “dangerous” and the other as “good.” Lumping people together serves no purpose other than to make us feel a little safer because we’ve drawn a line in the sand. But we aren’t any safer. And we aren’t accomplishing anything – just look at Congress.

Focusing on how we can work together, rather than how we are different, is what we have left.

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