I’ve had the misfortune of reading the news over the last couple weeks, and no doubt much like you, I feel like I’ve been emotionally clobbered by a bevy on nunchuck wielding ninjas putting a beatdown on my soul. It’s tough to think of all the lives lost and all the emotional wreckage left in the wake of the murders while at the same time enduring the streaming torrents of rage from opportunistic pundits and the endless political pandering as everybody uses the latest pile of dead bodies to push their political agenda. I can’t speak for you, but this and the generally depressing political climate of the election season has all combined to make me want to crawl into bed, pull up the covers and sleep away the rest of my days in blissful ignorance.
However, there is a simple bright truth lurking underneath these layers of awful, and I hesitate to point it out for fear of seeming naive, but I believe it to be true, so I’m going to say it anyway.
Here’s the bright spot. In a world where people can walk into a club and murder forty-nine innocent people, most people don’t.
I hope you will forgive me for being morbid, but the simple truth is that it’s not that hard to kill people. It doesn’t take a criminal mastermind to think of easy ways to murder a person or two, and given a little time and consideration, most people could probably find easy ways to commit mass murder. It’s not as if the douchebag Orlando club shooter accomplished some inconceivably supernatural feat of terroristic genius. As hideous as it is to contemplate, these types of crimes are something we could all replicate if we chose, and yet we all choose not to do such wicked things.
Over the past week, the media has been flooded by story after story of violent crimes, the number of guns, the dangers of religion and other tales meant to inspire fear and feelings of doom, and yet, can’t we take the exact opposite message from these stories? Sure, some people are dicks, but in a country of 319 million individuals of all different political views, religious affiliations, racial groups, sexual orientations and with almost all these people having access to guns and other weapons, the overwhelming majority of people choose to live in peace.
These general values for life and peaceful coexistence might seem like small consolation compared to the recent murders, but the fact that America holds these values is actually quite remarkable. A simple look around the globe and throughout history will show you that common decency is not all that common, and in many ways, we live in a golden age of peace, freedom and prosperity. We’d be fools to let the few wicked nutjobs of society keep us from recognizing how remarkably blessed we are as a people and spook us into treating our neighbors as our enemies.
We have serious problems in need of serious solutions, but in the midst of our pain, let’s not forget that in a nation full of all different sorts of people, the overwhelming majority of Americans choose the path of peace