Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Mar 24, 2018

When will we realize thoughts and prayers aren’t enough?

By KARYN SPORY | Dec 04, 2015

What are we doing? What are we, as a human race, doing? That’s the question I keep asking myself.

Wednesday afternoon I was all set to write my column about putting up my Christmas tree and decorating it. I was going to write about this insane desire I have to make a wreath, the burlap kind that peppers my Pinterest feed. Or the ornaments I talked myself into decorating, despite how much anxiety crafting gives me. There was going to be a funny antidote about how much I want to steal the 1970s set of Disney Snow White felt trimmed, eyes-missing-due-to-years-of-use dwarves that adorn my parent’s tree. It was going to be witty and quirky and cute – trust me, it was.

But as I sat in one of the oversized booths at Panda Kitchen Wednesday, enjoying my sesame chicken, a news bulletin scrolled across the bottom of the equally oversized TV, alerting the other diner and myself that the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill had been shut down due to reports of an armed assailant. The daytime soap opera that had been playing on the screen was quickly replaced with the iconic clock tower from the UNC campus.

I watched, fork still hovering near my mouth, as a newscaster took to the screen to relay the action. I looked to my plate, shoved a few more bites of sauce soaked fried rice into my gullet, and by the time I looked to the TV again, the brick tower had become palm trees and white emergency response vehicles zoomed across the frame, racing toward an unknown location, at least unknown to me.

In 30 seconds, a reportedly armed suspect was swapped with three actual armed attackers. (Police at UNC were unable to find an armed individual.) I was watching the live coverage of the San Bernardino, Calif., shooting. And it’s sad that I just can’t say I was watching coverage of the recent shooting because then you’d have to wonder, which one?

Was I referring to the siege at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday, or one of the three mass shootings on Nov. 23 (Houston, Texas; Minneapolis, Minn.; or Columbus, Ohio) or the five on Nov. 22? Or was I simply a little slow on the roll and talking about the Oct. 1 shooting in Roseburg, Ore.? Who knows? Who can even keep it straight? How can I write about twinkling lights when every single one of my social media feeds is being filled with “thoughts and prayers for the victim and families of name this week’s tragedy?”

According to a recent article by the Washington Post, in the past 334 days this year, there have been 351 shootings. But that’s outdated data now, San Bernardino represents the 355th shooting this year!

And as life after life is taken, and sympathy tweet after sympathy tweet is sent out and profile pictures are swapped for icons remember the tragedy, what are we doing? Besides typing out 140 characters, what are we doing?

Well, the Huffington Post has an article about how Congress has reached across the aisle, joined together, and in an astounding bipartisan movement, mastered the way to respond to mass shootings – by a moment of silence.

Thursday’s New York Daily News had an astounding cover featuring action by our elected leaders – tweets from Republicans Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul and Paul Ryan each sharing their prayers to the shooting victims and their families. The images are tethered to the page by bold, all-caps, block lettering saying, “God isn’t fixing this,” and continues, “As latest batch of innocent Americans are left lying in pools of blood, cowards who could truly end gun scourge continue to hide behind meaningless platitudes.”

Is it graphic? A tad. Is it a little lop sided, as I’m sure Democrats shared similar tweets? Yep. Does it get your attention? Heck yes. Should we shame people for sending out such tweets, posts or messages? No. When the terrorist attack happened in Paris, I changed my profile picture to the Eifel Tower made into a peace sign. I wanted to show my support and sympathy.

But the point is we need to do something. Do I have a detailed organizational plan in my back pocket, ready to show the next person who asks my opinion on our culture of mass shootings? No. I wish I did, though.

Is the answer tougher gun legislation? I can feel my daddy’s eyes barreling down on me all the way from Missouri. He’d be the first one to say that it’s not law abiding citizens heading these rampages.

Is the answer in better, more assessable mental health treatment and research? Quite possibly, though as of press time it hasn’t been confirmed if any of the three aggressors from Wednesday’s shootings had mental health disorders.

What I am saying is this is a complex issue and not one thing is going to fix it. But what I would like to see is our elected officials take a bipartisan stand inside their respective ivory towers and tackle this problem together.


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