See nothing, say nothing, do nothing
We are told we have an epidemic of gun violence.
No, we have an epidemic of willful disengagement.
We are disengaged from each other. We are disengaged from reverence for life, disengaged from moral instruction, and disengaged from actions to confront the reality of evil and those who would do harm among us. We are disengaged from those tormented by mental illness or dark personality disorders, and we are disengaged from remediating the sociopathology of abnormal isolation.
We are disengaged from the bonds of the two-parent family structure, from childrearing at home, from teaching good from evil and imposing consequences on those who would slaughter the innocent and who have committed unspeakable atrocities. And yes, we are disengaged from God, willfully dismissive of His commands, grace, and truth.
Perhaps the most alarming common thread among the school, church, and supermarket shootings from Newtown, Connecticut to Parkland, Florida to Sutherland Springs, Texas to Buffalo, New York, and to the sidewalk massacre in Waukesha, Wisconsin, to last week's Uvalde, Texas apocalypse is that the gunman or perpetrator in each tragedy had previously displayed severe signs of mental illness or instability and/or possessed an abundant criminal record whose morbid premeditations were well known by family members, schoolyard pals, teachers, law enforcement, social services, and social media surfers.
No one saw anything; no one said anything; no one did anything.
We have become the world where Henry Adams invited the modern industrial state to replace the erstwhile ancient veneration of the Blessed Virgin, willingly foreswearing that once-upon-a-time when the moral and spiritual life was vivid, having life-affirming meaning, where individual names and faces had meaning. While Renaissance painter Pieter Breughel the Elder's peasants' lives were brutish and short, their outsized expressive faces effused personalities, believing that the Virgin knew each of them by name.
Instead, we have followed Adams into the cold and aloof realm of infatuation with the Dynamo, electricity-generating artificial intelligence seducing the world to venerate dehumanized packets of voltage, waveforms, and electron pulses indistinguishable from one another. Faceless, nameless, interchangeable, disposable, expendable, godless orphans having no sense of belonging, purpose, or honor. Numbers on a silicon wafer.
We have tolerated, if not welcomed, depravity, where the descent into madness is normal, perversion celebrated, indeed championed as the perfect good.
We have been bystanders, indifferent witnesses to right and good marginalized, dismissed, or canceled. We have allowed decency to be considered a character defect. Evil is just a string of commonplace transactions, unremarkable, virtue disagreeably oppressive.
Murdering the blameless is just an everyday banality, summoning W.H. Auden's "torturer's horse scratching its innocent behind on a tree" in Musée des Beaux Arts:
... while someone is eating or opening a window or just walking along ...
In Brueghel's Icarus, for instance; how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly by.
Image: Pixabay, Pixabay License.