The cumulative effect of the recent rash of horrific mass murders – in Paris, San Bernardino, Orlando, Dallas, Turkey, Nice, Japan, among too many other places — appears to be causing one of two reactions with the public. We are becoming fatigued by and desensitized to such atrocities. Or, we are becoming so affected that we are compelled to take action.
Here is how the first response manifests itself. A Time magazine headline began “Yet another terror attack …” The article recounted the French people’s frustrations. Public grievers walking the promenade where 84 revelers were fatally mowed down held signs declaring ”Je suis epuise” (“I am exhausted”).
Seven dozen innocent people were massacred. The response should not be “Yet another” as if such occurrences have become overwhelming and just too much to take. Not one lost life, particularly to violence, should ever be dismissed as “yet another.”
The second response is consistent with the warning of the ancient Greek philosopher Solon, who wrote, “There can be no justice until those of us who are unaffected by crime become as indignant as those who are.”
Those of us whose lives as yet have not been directly impacted by such terror must not become disaffected but rather enraged and engaged agents of change.
We must become indignant. We must become more knowledgeable on the root causes of the hatred and mental illness that lead to violent behavior. We must support policymakers who consider gun violence and violent behavior by the mentally ill to be high-priority concerns. We must never assume that victims are only other people in other places; and that terrorism does not, has not or will not affect us directly.
This is the least but hardly the most we can do to show our respect for victims, past and future.