I don’t take the privilege of having a newspaper column for granted. With that blessing comes the responsibility and opportunity to speak the truth, as least from my view point. As my deadline approaches and I mull over ideas for my weekly dispatch, one topic keeps resonating in my mind.
In the preceding weeks and day of my writing this, we have endured the tragedy of mass shootings in Denver, San Bernardino, and other locations domestic and foreign. They have become so common, we barely flinch emotionally or socially in response. We seem to see them as occurrences which happen to others far removed from our daily lives. Or so we like to think. In my opinion, they actually happen oh so much closer to home and heart than we may feel comfortable in admitting, if only we examine them beyond the media’s suggested prisms of political affiliation, race, religion, and inalienable rights.
Who amongst us doesn’t have these commonalities in our lives: church or place of worship, schools be they primary, secondary or collegiate, health care facilities, shopping centers, places of employment, and movie theaters. I would venture at least one if not several of those locations are a part of each and every one of our daily routines. Unfortunately, these examples of our collective social domestication have become common denominators in the reoccurring tragedy of mass gun violence.
Typically, individuals and/or mental illness are cast as the culprits of gun violence to the exclusion of the availability of guns, individual responsibility, along with our irrational devotion to the second amendment in deference and ignorance to the other amendments comprising the Bill of Rights. Because we the people and our elected officials have chosen to abdicate our options of community/personal responsibility and safety in regards to demanding reasonable and responsible gun laws in addition to humane care and services for the mentally ill, we have made ourselves no more than deer in a baited field. When our government officials decline to react to the murder of 28 upper middle class white children, teachers, and staff at an elementary school or as one of their own is nearly assassinated during a political rally at a shopping center, a very clear message is delivered. The choice not to change their views or shift the national paradigm of gun control to one of proactive, preventative actions speaks volumes as to their commitment and courage towards our protection and the preservation of our way of life. Movie theaters, holiday gatherings, and even places of worship have become, dare I say, contemporary if not convenient killing fields. We see it happening all around us, as we refuse to acknowledge the symptoms or institute corresponding preventative measures while living in fear of the disease of gun violence. It seems just a matter of time before we or someone we know and love succumbs to this disease.
Look, I know I am just a veterinarian. But I do believe in the admonition, if you see something, say something. In saying something, I hope to prompt others to do the same and stimulate productive dialog along with proactive efforts.
So often after shootings we hear the words “our prayers are with…” or see “# prayers for …” on social media. Those are good measures, but I conversely discern that prayer without actions are wasted words and efforts.
Dr. Pierre B. Bland is a small animal practitioner who offers office and house call appointments to his clients. His offices are located at 3225 N. Andrews Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale, FL and can be reached at 954 673-8579.