What I Want To Say, But Can’t: A Post-Charleston Shooting Reflection


I want to say something.

I want to say something, but I’m not really sure what.

I’m not sure I have the words for what needs to be said.

I want to say that when a white man enters a black church and kills 9 black people, it is obviously racially motivated. When the man says, “I want to shoot black people,” we don’t have to wonder what his motivation was. We don’t have to wonder if racism is still an issue in America. We can know.

I want to say that just because a mass murder happened in a church, it doesn’t mean Christians in America are under attack. There are places in the world where Christians do have to fear for their lives, and to pretend like America is one of those places is to do their struggle a disservice. To claim victimhood when you are not a victim is a monstrous act of narcissism.

I want to say that we create laws and regulations to protect us against those who would do us harm. We create laws to protect us against ourselves. Society, politics, the rule of law, these all exist because without them humanity is a chaotic mess. With them, we grow incrementally less messy.

I want to say that we do not live in the wild west, and that’s good. The wild west was horrible. People died, frequently. John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies have led us to romanticize the old west as a time of Real Men and Real Women. In fact, it was a horror of constant dangers: lawlessness, poor health, racism, sexual violence and poverty. Why would we seek to emulate that period?

I want to say that a person who would put his or her right to own a gun above the lives of his fellow humanity is a terrifying human being. I don’t have children so I don’t know what it feels like to believe that I must do anything in my power to protect them, including being ready and able to shoot any attacker. I do have loved ones, though, family and friends and lovers, and I do know what it’s like to hear they have been attacked, hurt, violated. I know what it’s like to want vengeance, to want to inflict pain, violence, righteous punishment. I know the craving for justice. A gun isn’t justice.

I want to say that the world will never be perfect but that doesn’t mean we have to stop striving for it. A sailor will never reach the horizon, but she can still follow the setting sun.

I want to say that this shooting in Charleston will make us stop, consider and finally act. It won’t.

I want to say so much. Every. Single. Time. this happens. Every time a psychopath enters a church, a school, a theater, a synagogue, a mall – anywhere they damn well please – and obliterates innocent people with easily purchased guns, I want to say something. I want to scream. I want to grab people by the shoulders and yell in their face.

I want to say something.

But I can’t. Because if I do say any of that, I’m just politicizing these innocent people’s death. If I say something, I’m the bad guy because I didn’t have the decency to wait until after the mourning was finished. If I want to say something, I have to wait until there are no more tragedies, no more senseless acts of violence, no more crippling flashes of horror. I have to wait until there are no more mass shootings.

So I will never say anything.

 

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