Desensitized

President Obama:
These families have endured a shattering tragedy. It ought to be a shock to us all as a nation and as a people. It ought to obsess us. It ought to lead to some sort of transformation. That’s what happened in other countries when they experienced similar tragedies. In the United Kingdom, in Australia, when just a single mass shooting occurred, … they understood that there was nothing ordinary about this kind of carnage. They endured great heartbreak, but they also mobilized and they changed, and mass shootings became a great rarity. And yet, here in the United States, after the round-of-clock coverage on cable news, after the heartbreaking interviews with families, after all the speeches and all the punditry and all the commentary, nothing happens. … I fear there’s a creeping resignation that these tragedies are just somehow the way it is, that this is somehow the new normal.

The words of President Obama remind me of my  favorite quote by Ernest Becker:

If everybody lives roughly the same lies about the same things, there is no one to call them liars. They jointly establish their own sanity and call themselves normal.

Are we slowly succumbing to the fringes of our society when good people stand by silently and do nothing?

We risk losing our humanity when we become desensitized to violence and abuse of any kind.

2 thoughts on “Desensitized

  1. These are very sad and sobering thoughts. I think all the violence on TV and the latest video game on violence contribute to us as individuals not really understanding the horror and pain of these incidents unless one of your loved ones dies in such a tragedy. Margaret Eubank

  2. I am moved by Obama’s comments… also by yours, Tom, and Margaret’s.
    To carry this forward a bit:
    I assume other countries (some, at least) show violence on TV and through video games. Do they experience that same apparent numbing/desensitizing (I don’t know; just wondering at this point)? If they don’t, perhaps it is because their populations can separate fiction from fact, and use each for its purpose, and make necessary laws which seem to have been effective.
    Wonder how outcomes are different in populations which do not have the TV and video game violence… but they may also be dictatorships, with extra military force…
    And wonder how much of the outcome in the US is due to public desensitization vs. (or combined with) the power of corruption (in the sense of the gun lobby’s influence over the country’s lawmakers) and/or (in the case of Obama’s time in office) the fanatical “ideology” of political opposition wanting nothing more than this president’s defeat/failure…
    Just musing… but not amused! Something really does need to be done!

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