Is it fear, or arrogance that compels us? Honestly. Which do you think it is? In my contemplation of the two, I’ve discovered that it is a fear of losing the right to be arrogant, that compels us. Now, when I say “us,” I’m talking about society in general. I’m talking about our capacity as human beings to assess a situation. As I started to break down the recent events in Connecticut, I realized that we have completely lost our sense of humanity. It’s not something that’s easily visible, but from what I’ve seen over the last two days, it’s undeniable.
“Do not fear mistakes, you will know failure. Continue to reach out.“
We’ve always been a rational and compassionate species. In the last century, we’ve achieved some of the most amazing things conceivable. We’ve cured diseases, landed a man on the moon, revolutionized communication and travel, stood up for equal rights, and much more. The list of our accomplishments as human beings stretches on for miles. These are the things we’ve gained. But what have we lost? In just a hundred years, how have we changed, as people?
As much as I want to say that we’ve learned to be more accountable, I can’t. Over time, we’ve somehow lost our ability to admit that we’re wrong. Instead, we’ve chosen to mask our mistakes by pointing the finger at someone (or something) else. When terrible things like the Connecticut massacre happen, our first comments are not what they should be. I’m talking about beyond helping those affected in any way possible. Past that initial moment of shock, awe, and sadness, what do we do? Sadly, rather than look at the situation logically and responsibly, we turn the whole thing into a clusterfuck.
If there’s one thing that I wish I could change about this country, it’s our inability to accept that we screwed up. After something horrific, like the Aurora shooting or the Virginia Tech massacre, a vast majority of Americans immediately try to make the issue into something that it’s not. When someone becomes mentally unstable and kills innocent people, we almost instantly hear arguments from every corner of creation about why it happened. Obviously gun control is going to be brought up in these scenarios, but is that really what our first thought should be?
Now I’m not advocating for or against gun control, because that’s not the point I’m making. At the first sign of trouble, Americans turn to some idiotic political issue. We can never just look at the information in front of us and say that, somewhere down the line, we fucked up. It’s never that simple. No, it always has to be the gun lovers, or the government, or the gun control supporters. Once these arguments are on the table, a full scale political war breaks out. People go back and forth, someone gets accused of being “un-American,” and nothing gets done anyway. In the end, who does it help? It certainly isn’t going to help the families of those twenty children that lost their lives on Friday. It’s not going to bring back the heroic teachers that protected their students. It definitely doesn’t make us a better society. This reaction is pointless, and it just drives the political wedge deeper and deeper. We have to change.
Americans have lost their ability to stop and say, “we failed.” If a tragedy strikes, it’s always because we have too many laws, or not enough. It’s because so-and-so is promoting this agenda, or what’s-her-name thinks that bacon and chocolate taste good. Why can’t we just look at the cards that we’ve been dealt, stand up, and acknowledge that we failed as a society this time? There’s no argument here, we just failed to see that this man was crazy and would do something as heinous as attack an elementary school. It’s insane to me that instead of acknowledging our failure and working from there, we’ve decided it’s better to just blame a piece of paper (or lack thereof).
“It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.”
-Sir Josiah Stamp
Where has our accountability gone? We no longer have the ability to swallow our pride and admit our mistakes. This rings true for almost everything we do. When something has a positive effect, we Americans take all the glory. We did it, and we’re contributing to the world. But when things don’t go as we expected, we say that it was Billy’s idea, or that something else caused it. This isn’t going to get us anywhere, and we have to realize that.
I’m sure this realization will happen at some point, but I’m afraid that something even more horrible will be the trigger. If the murders of twenty innocent children don’t make us admit that we dropped the ball, I shudder to guess what kind of tragedy comes as an actual wake-up call.