It gets harder each time to know how to respond to the news that there has been another mass shooting. They are not shocking, not even the slightest bit surprising. There are many wonderful things about America, but there is a terrifying intersection here also in our beliefs about guns and our beliefs about mental illness, in the ways our beliefs are expressed in our laws and in the allocations of our resources, in what we have been taught to value and in what those values cause us to do to one another and to allow to be done in our names. I’ve been dodging calls all week from Planned Parenthood. I’m a staunch supporter of Planned Parenthood, but I don’t want to be asked for money in the wake of the attack on their Colorado facility. Because I do not believe that shooting had much to do with abortion rights. As I do not believe the Dylann Roof shootings had much to do with racism.
Mental illness clutches onto this issue or that issue, those who suffer from it develop obsessions that reflect larger cultural tumult and pathology, but those issues are not the issue. I cried tears of relief when James Holmes was spared the death penalty by one hold-out juror. My heart aches for his parents. And for him. My heart aches for all of us living in a country whose politicians are beholden to the NRA, an organization whose mission is to sell more guns, and whose mentally ill, so many unable to afford any treatment at all, wander our streets and the aisles of our gun stores. And today, the news of another shooting. We don’t know yet the stories of those pulling the triggers in San Bernadino or the names of their weapons or the names of their victims. But we do know that no other country chooses to live the way we live.