America the Beautiful? I Don’t Know About That
5 months ago
I’ve lived to see so much gun violence that I question the greatness of our nation
The views expressed in this Op-Ed do not necessarily reflect those of Loop 21.
I only share that number to give context to the following numbers: 60, the number of school shootings that have been reported since my birth; 4, the number of mass shootings I’ve written about this year; 100,000, the number of people shot or killed in the U.S. per year on average; and 0, the number of times I’ve felt like someone actually wanted to do something “meaningful” to prevent any of it.
With Friday’s horrific mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., where a young gunman took the lives of 20 children and six adults at a public elementary school, I felt we waded into territory that confirms that we as a nation aren’t nearly as mighty as we purport to be.
How is it that a nation which is able to put a man on the moon, foster innovators who create the world’s most popular consumer technologies, and go from enslaving Africans to electing (and re-electing) its first black president, can’t muster the political will to protect the most innocent among us from being shot multiple times with a semi-automatic assault rifle at school?
“Can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations?” he poignantly asked before an audience of solemn and sobbing Connecticut residents. “Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children -- all of them -- safe from harm?”
He continued: “I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.… We can’t tolerate this anymore. Surely, we can do better than this.”
[ALSO READ: Full Text of Obama's Remarks]
Well said. But I don’t believe him. Obama, who arguably gives some of the best speeches on occasions like these, is just like all other presidents before him in this regard. He governs a nation that has yet to show -- by any noticeable metric -- when and where we have done better.