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A Gallery of Thoughts on Arts, Culture and Orthodox Christian Spirituality

A Short Rumination on School Shootings

The Florida school shooting last week was just the last in a series of random mass murders in the United States in this century. What used to be an outrage and anomaly only 50 years ago has now become common, not only in America, but also increasingly in other parts of the world. There have been countless analyses of these events, a myriad of reasons given for the rampant phenomenon, and most of them are correct. This essay will probably just reiterate those views. Nevertheless, considering the calamitous nature of these massacres, no words are sufficient to express their gravity.

First of all, one should discount the existence of close to 300 million weapons in the country as the principal reason for the epidemic of shootings. Yes, this number is staggering, but, as Michael Moore demonstrates in his 2002 documentary Bowling for Columbine, Canadians are just as keen on weapons and shooting as citizens of the United States are, but people just north of the border feel so safe that almost all of them leave their front doors unlocked. They are not scared. So, in spite of the fact that logic tells us that where there are that many guns, they are bound to be used, this cannot be the primary reason behind  the mass murders.

Michael Moore's sound conclusion in the mentioned film is about payback. What goes around comes around. Americans have committed so much crime abroad, it is bound to reappear with interest in their midst. The renowned filmmaker shows some of the pictures from the US military "interventions" across the globe, including the 1999 bombing of Serbia, to demonstrate his point. Instant karma. Some people do not believe in such "superstition," but the evidence says otherwise. The children who pay for the crimes of their countrymen in high positions are innocent, but sometimes, as we know from the Old Testament, the entire nation is punished for the sins of a few leaders. The United States has been in constant imperialist wars since 1945, and sooner or later the violence has to spill over at home.

There is another battle going on in the United States. It's the information warfare. The avid media consumers are bombarded with images of shot and maimed children, frightened and disturbed by paranoid threats over nuclear annihilation, economic crisis, and by militant statements of deranged individuals. Viewing such images in abundance makes one insensitive to other people's suffering. The aggressive political propaganda has also made the public completely polarised. In America nowadays, almost everything is about power. The overwhelming demographic transformation, the policy of open doors to illegal immigrants and politisation of all impassioned movements demanding equal rights has led to dangerous tension. Donald Trump, the expression of the new rage and revolt, has been pacified to a certain degree, but the peril lurking from the buildup is far from over. It is yet to come.

Finally, and most importantly, there is the total alienation in the society. The individualism that has led to the rapid economic rise of the country, the same individualism that the United States has been proud of throughout its short and turbulent history, has led to estrangement, selfishness and utter disregard for the fellow human being. We think of the teenage shooter as a deranged youth, but let's try to imagine the world he lived in. Pumped up by routine slayings in video games, pictures of war, access to machine guns, and scenes of instant popularity in reality TV shows, he is a lone, confused and anxious individual who has never been taught true values, and who has never been consoled by a considerate soul. People around him, just like people everywhere, simply don't care. Children are left in institutions from week six of their lives, exposed from early childhood to the whims of the society that only thinks about the image of themselves. Abandoned and desperate, driven by rage over a lack of meaning, he decided to end his life in instant infamy. Just like on Youtube.

Svetozar Postic

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