Thoughts on the Washington Navy Yard mass shooting – it is not a time for politics; it is a time for reflection!
Dr. Janis Orlowski is a highly qualified and thoroughly experienced medical professional. She deals with trauma on an almost daily basis. Consequently, she is in a position to speak authoritatively on the events at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday the 16th of September, 2013. At the end of a press conference about the treatment of three shooting victims, Dr. Orlowski said, “There’s something evil in our society that we as Americans have to work to try and eradicate.” Lest one think Dr. Orlowski is embittered and anxious to lodge a complaint against DC or America in general, she also said, “It’s a great city. It’s a great country, and we have to work together to get rid of this,” she concluded. “Because we just cannot have, you know, one more shooting with, you know, so many people killed.”
In the face of this latest atrocity perpetrated by an American on other Americans, we need to genuinely consider the wisdom of Dr. Orlowski’s observations. While people are invested in various positions and repeatedly advocate their favored solutions, no honest, rational person can deny that events such as the rampage at the Washington Navy Yard are incompatible with a sound society and detrimental to the psychological and sociological health of our country. As Americans and as human beings we face a challenge and must make a choice. The challenge is to recognize these recurrent acts of evil as warning signs and take appropriate action to prevent their dreadful recurrence. The choice is to learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish together as fools ignoring the malignancy such acts of slaughter manifest.
This is not the place for a recitation of well-worn arguments for or against gun laws. Each of us must look to our foundational beliefs and evaluate them as guides for living constructively among our fellow citizens. As children almost every one of us pledged allegiance to the Flag and the Republic for which it stood – one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Events such as the Navy Yard Massacre reflect neither liberty nor justice and the victims, but for the whim of chance, could have been any of us.
Despite our differences in size, shade, and shape, we all share the human genome. We are brothers and sisters from various mothers; when we are cut, we bleed the same color. We must not simply sigh and shrug in the aftermath of yet another atrocity. We must find a way to care and be aware of the status and situation of those around us. We must detect the frustration, hostility, and rage seething beneath of those who share this country with us. We must find ways to defuse these human equivalents of Improvised Explosive Devices with as little danger and harm to any and all as possible. We must recall and take to heart the words of Robert F. Kennedy spoken on the day following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.:
“This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity, my only event of today, to speak briefly to you about the mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.
It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one – no matter where he lives or what he does – can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.”
RFK to the City Club of Cleveland, April 5, 1968
This speech is entitled The Mindless Menace of Violence, and it is as relevant today as it was 45 years ago. It is time and long past time for people of goodwill to unite, arise, and speak out against the “something evil in our society.”
We can demand our elected and appointed leaders go through the same soul-searching process we engage in ourselves. We can demand that they be part of the solution rather than a sideshow of inane and inept behaviors. We cannot, however, shift the burden of dealing with and driving out this evil onto to them. It is time for us all to acknowledge that as far as this festering, resident evil goes, “We have met the enemy and they is us.” This does not mean each of us shares the guilt of the Washington Navy Yard shooter, but it does mean that each of us bears the responsibility to be part of the preventative effort that makes another such murderer unlikely. Unlike the Shadow, we do not know what evil lurks in the hearts of men, but we have to be attuned to the signs of desperation, despair, and derangement which could bring it to the fore. The time for indifference, if there ever was such a time, has passed. Now, we must dare to care and share the burden of leaving no one out and no one behind. Let us truly see the human beings around us and take note of what we discern.
If we are to fully be participants in the solution rather than perpetrators of the problem, we must bring RFK’s cogent recommendations back into consciousness and make them operative. This will not be done by passing a law. It will require a persistent change in how we think and how we live with and among our fellow citizens.
“We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children’s future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled nor enriched by hatred or revenge.
Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.
But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.
Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again.”
About the Author: Larry Conley
I live in Allegheny County, PA. I am married and a father of twins. I served in the U S Army and saw hostile fire in Vietnam. When I was in the Army I took and oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. I have never rescinded that oath. br> For whatever time remains for me, I will do all in my power to answer the question, "What can I do for my country?" br > View My Profile