I scrolled over the headline without flinching. The words fell flat, like bodies.
“1 Dead, 3 Injured in California Synagogue Shooting,” Time reported on April 28, the day after a gunman opened fire on a synagogue in San Diego.
Learning there’s been a shooting used to send a shiver down my spine. Death was heavy and it sat on my tongue like lead. Yellow crime scene tape once looked so jarring.
Now it’s the norm.
I scroll and skim over stories of death and mourning while drinking my morning tea. I listen to the same tired responses from legislators. I retweet demands for reform. Then I go about my day.
My response to mass shootings has become robotic. I play my part in this sickening rerun, feeling as detached as I do from a TV show I’ve seen a hundred times.
I used to beg for change with all the intensity I could muster. I demanded more than thoughts and prayers. I participated in debates, attended rallies and forced myself to remember those who died.
Now I’m tired.
Each shooting results in the same cycle: senseless death, demanding change and getting nothing. With each repetition, a small part of me falls like a domino, or a body. That tiny light inside dims just a little. It becomes harder to convince myself change is near, that the next shooting will be enough, because it never is.
There have been shootings from New Zealand to Pittsburgh. With each attack, I become more and more desensitized. We are facing a universal, worldwide epidemic, but we are comfortably numb. Numb, that is, until it happens to us.
According to Vox, since Sandy Hook in 2012, there have been 2,029 mass shootings in the United States. No state is immune from this issue. That data was updated on April 28.
We say we fear fatality but have accepted abrupt, undeserving death as the norm.
We aren’t safe in elementary schools, synagogues, historic churches, college campuses and, since Baltimore’s shooting last weekend, Sunday cookouts. We know all this. We read columns just like this one all the time. However, this column is different because I’m admitting something just as terrifying as looking down the barrel of a gun. I’m admitting that I’m not fazed by mass shootings anymore.
When I learned of California’s most recent shooting, I didn’t react. I don’t think a lot of us did. I saw the headline and swiped to the next story.
I still care about others. I still house compassion and empathy. I will still demand change, debate, attend rallies and force myself to remember those who died. However, I now carry an indifference about mass shootings and I am so ashamed of that.
I am ashamed of my indifference toward violence, and working to battle it, but what about those who can reform legislation and push our nation further from mass shootings as the norm? Is their indifference, their lack of action, eating away at them the way mine is?
I think their actions show us the answer.
A shooter’s violent delight has clearly led to a violent end: tolerance.