For the past year, people have been wanting things to go back to normal. I’ve heard it dozens of times. Early on, I even said it, too. But by last fall, I rethought that wish. Just how good was “normal”?
With the gradual return to public places comes a specter the country was all too willing to set aside as it grappled with a pandemic capable of killing thousands of Americans a day. Mass shootings are starting to make headlines again, and though their return is most unwelcome, they’ve proved to be an inextricable part of life in the United States.
The latest mass killing left 10 dead at a grocery store. For the past 12 months, Americans have been vigilant in grocery stores to avoid contagion. Monday’s slayings in Boulder, Colorado, reminded them that even with pandemic hope on the horizon, they should remain vigilant for a different reason.
Americans shouldn’t have to fret about dying in a supermarket, or at a spa, or anywhere for that matter. Catching a bullet should be far from their minds, but with a return to American normalcy comes the reality that anyone could die for nothing, just about everywhere.
Just as the country is conquering a new pandemic, an old, familiar epidemic makes its return. The last week has been a harbinger of what “back to normal” means for the US.
The most recent string of senseless gun violence began March 16 when a shooter killed eight people at three Atlanta spas. The next day, a drive-by in Stockton, California, injured five people who’d gathered for a vigil.Four people were hospitalized Thursday after a shooting in Gresham, Oregon.
On Saturday, a pair of shootings at clubs in Dallas and Houston left a young woman dead and 12 people injured. Shortly thereafter, a shooter opened fire at what Philadelphia police termed an illegal party, killing one man and injuring five more.
Now, Boulder makes seven in seven days. When the gunfire at King Soopers stopped, 10 lay dead, including hero officer Eric Talley, the first policeman on the scene. His wife and seven children will pay an astronomical debt for their dad’s bravery.
“Flags that have barely been raised back to full mast after the tragic shooting in Atlanta that claimed eight lives and now the tragedy here, close to home, at a grocery store that could be any of our neighborhood grocery stores,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday.
This is obviously not what people mean when they desire “normal.” But it’s just as obvious that this IS normal. There have been mass shootings at schools, churches, synagogues, malls, clubs, parks, and house parties. It’s so normal to have preschoolers practice what to do in the event of an active shooter along with fire drills.
I remember being a high school senior and crying when the Columbine Shooting happened in 1999. Those kids were my age. It shocked the nation, and became the harbinger of the shooting violence that has become normal for 21st Century America.
Yesterday, I listened to the You’re Wrong About podcast on Columbine. I really like the show, which takes a second look at famous stories from the past that most people think they know, but actually don’t. Like in the Columbine episode, the hosts shared how the killers didn’t listen to Marilyn Manson, didn’t pick April 20th to honor Hitler (it was supposed to go down on the 19th), and weren’t members of the Trench Coat Mafia.
Next month will mark 22 years since then. Twenty-two years of this normal. Are we ready to return to this? Well, I guess it’s already too late.
- Listen to “Columbine” from You’re Wrong About here (NSFW, strong language, violence).
- Write down some habits that you don’t want to bring into post-pandemic life. Then, write down ways you’ll achieve those goals.