“Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.” -Robert F. Kennedy
For the past few months I have talked about…read about…written about…and spent too much time thinking about mass shooting tragedies.
The recent events in San Bernardino and the subsequent hate speech that has pervaded national media has prompted me to reflect on other mass shootings and incidents of “homegrown” terrorism. Nowhere did I see or remember seeing discussions of what to do with young men who fit the profile of the perpetrators who killed 12 at an Aurora theater, 13 at a Columbine high school, 9 at a Columbia church, or 26 at Sandy Hook elementary school (20 of them children).
There were no widespread calls for better surveillance of white nationalist organizations that have been allowed to thrive and spread racial hate throughout the country. There was no talk of profiling young men who spend much too much time playing violent video games and watching violent movies. And there were no policy recommendations to track and monitor the actions of teenage loners on our school campuses or in public theaters.
While the mass shooting in San Bernardino was motivated by an extremist ideology of a particular religion, proposing discriminatory policies is against our values as a country, can be counter productive by fueling more extremists, and will not solve the problem of mass shootings.
Robert F. Kennedy once said, “Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.” Like Aurora, Columbine, Columbia, Sandy Hook, and countless other communities left to recover from mass shootings that have destroyed lives and devastated families, by focusing on what happened in San Bernardino simply as an isolated act of terrorism against America, we miss the opportunity to gain wisdom that can help us avert or minimize incidents like these in the future.