On Aug. 3, a shooter — who later told police he was targeting “Mexicans” — killed at least 22 people and wounded two dozen others at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Early the next morning, another shooter killed at least nine people in Dayton, Ohio. Both shooters were white males in their 20s. In the days following the shootings, the coverage in LNP included local reaction stories on our news pages, as well as editorials, local and syndicated columns, editorial cartoons and numerous letters to the editor on our opinion pages.
The American news landscape is a whirling, dizzying spectacle in 2019. The notion of even a 24-hour news cycle can seem quaint; these days, some stories only get an hour or two in the spotlight before we proceed to the next jaw-dropper.
And when major news — or major tragedies — occur, the flood of reactions, observations, dueling viewpoints, hot takes and deep-dive analyses can be overwhelming.
Sometimes, it’s all we can do to just breathe.
But we can’t just move on from what happened in the U.S. in that terrible first weekend of August. While inertia inevitably pushes our lives forward, we can still — as individuals, families, communities and Americans — try to pull some wisdom and shared objectives from the senselessness of what happened in El Paso and Dayton.
These are some passages that appeared in LNP that we found particularly salient, eloquent and compelling. Some are calls to action; some are reflections. We did not want them to get lost amid the clatter of another news cycle.
— “My children do not believe in the seemingly impossible. In a country where mass shootings have become routine, nothing seems impossible. ... These events do not shock them or wrench their belief about American culture from its socket. Mass shootings are part of what they know to be American culture. ... My children do not wonder what meaningful actions will be taken to address our country’s acceptance of mass shootings as a way of life. They wonder when it will be their turn to either run, duck or fall.”
— “My heart breaks for this generation of young adults all across our nation who are in need of mentors to positively influence their lives for love and service, yet it seems that many are caught in isolation, which makes them vulnerable to a fear-filled worldview. ... We can be an example. While it’s easy to look to others to change, we can be the change.”
— “When will the majority of us agree that enough is enough? I hope you all will join me in writing or calling your senators and representatives to demand action. I have yet to hear a reasonable response to the question of why a private citizen needs military grade weapons or automatic weapons.”
— “There is nothing new about white supremacists and their racist screed. What is notable is that, for the first time since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, apocalyptic race warriors and anti-government militiamen have crept out from the shadows and seem emboldened in a campaign to rid America of ‘undesirable’ and foreign elements. ... Complacency is insufficient in this heart of darkness. So too are the false prophets of American greatness who despise our liberty and endanger the Republic on which we stand.”
— “You only have to look at the rising suicide rates, opioid deaths, declining life expectancy and, of course, the onslaught of mass shootings to see the country’s despair. ... Where everyone loses me is with the idea that the solution to these maladies can be found in Washington or in nationalizing movements of the right or the left. ... What we need are communities, and the idea of national community is a myth. Conversation is done face to face and person to person, and so is community.”
— “The fact that these two shootings took place over the same weekend should be a wake-up call to us all. These assaults on our fellow Americans were done for reasons that span the spectrum and will not be addressed by one proposal from one particular political party. To be effective, we need all leaders and their respective ideas at the table to have the difficult but civil discussion on what can prevent these attacks in the future. We have to be willing to listen to one another and not argue past each other.”
— “This act of murder was not about legal or illegal immigration. It was about an indiscriminate rage against people our elected officials and talking media heads describe as ‘invaders’ — just the way this terrorist did. These are the actions of a person whose level of violence is statistically rare, but not nearly rare enough. ... Racism is real. Hate is real. And, according to the FBI, white supremacist hate crimes and white nationalist activity are on the rise. These racists present a credible threat to our lives and security, but also to our public spaces.”
— “I’m more interested in why we’re killing each other wholesale, on a daily basis, rather than how we’re doing it. Perhaps we need to look deeper than the simplistic explanations — political rhetoric, social media, video games, the availability of firearms — and consider a society in which people are willing to take lives without considering the impact or the consequences. We dismiss the presence of evil in the world until a massacre reveals it in neon. And, soon after, we dismiss it again.”
— “Love your neighbor as yourself. Make it a point to befriend a new person weekly. Report bullying to the proper authorities. If you see someone who needs mental help, report it to the proper authorities. Some opportunities only come once in our lifetime.”
— “We need a deep renewal of our churches and educational system. Our churches need to preach and practice the blessed unity of one, all-inclusive family of God, which makes us spiritual brothers and sisters, who are on Earth to support one another in love — without exception.”
— “By your silence, you’re saying this is OK. But if this sickens you, then please speak up. Bombard your senators and representatives with phone calls and emails. We are all needed in order to make a difference. Silence is acceptance.”
We thank everyone who contributed to this discussion. Though it’s a painful one, it’s important and we hope it continues on these pages.