Every evening at six my husband and I turn on the local news, we call it the "killing fields" and we count the number of shootings in our area and the number of dead.
It is a constant senseless slaughter. The irony is that some of the commercial breaks are paid by "Smoke-Free Florida" where voiceovers tell us how bad cigarettes are.
Well, we all know smoking is not a healthy habit but how many innocent people have been killed by someone shooting a round of Marlboro Reds? Smoking is a personal choice the same personal choice people claim when they don't want to wear a mask or get the vaccine. Smokers are pariahs, banned from public places and public transportation while many states allow open gun carriers to walk in wherever they want.
This country is more tolerant of guns than cigarettes which are more regulated than weapons. Go figure.
Why isn't there a commercial for "Gun-Free Florida"?
Movie theaters and malls are shooting galleries, school massacres are regarded as class size reductions, and big-city murders, most of them senseless and random, are sharply on the rise. The media and the “experts" focus on finding the “motive" as if, when it is found, and explained, everything is OK. Looking for simple answers is just one way we try to make sense out of a complicated world. Balloon makers, teddy bear manufacturers, flowers, candles, card stores make a fortune every time a makeshift memorial is set up at the scene of one of these tragedies. It is the only futile way we seem able to respond to the madness around us. We have become desensitized to the bloodshed. We shrug and think, “Oh this cannot happen to me.” We are adapting, memory grows shorter each day and yesterday's massacre is old news.
We hit that virtual delete button in our short-term memory and move on. But, if we are honest with ourselves, underneath our public veneer there is a growing streak of fear. Aren’t we becoming constantly afraid that suddenly, out of nowhere and without notice, any of the strangers you brush up against at the mall grab, in a fit of inexplicable rage, that readily available AK47 and mow us down?
What kind of life is that? Is it the direction humanity is going?
To survive we need to have faith and trust in someone, anyone. We were raised to believe we depended on one another. We crave “normalcy.” Today it is just a probability, the roll of a dice. A Russian roulette.
Instead of that Ralph Lauren polo shirt we might have to start considering investing in a bulletproof vest to go to Publix or Walmart. Perhaps it is the final stage of the evolution of our species as we know it. Even Darwin would be speechless. In an age of madness believing we are immune to it is in itself a form of madness.
Please pass the Marlboros.
Pier Angelo was born in Italy, moved to England at the age of 17 and learned English at the Nelson School of English. He attended college and graduate school in Manhattan. In 2009 he founded SFGN with Norm Kent. Now he’s retired with his husband Tom and his Affenpinscher Cabbage. He still enjoys writing his column Off The Wall for SFGN.