American Tragedy of Greek Proportions?

20 Oct

Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14th, 2012 over 80,000 people in the US have been shot dead. There have been more than 140 school shootings over that span of time, and more mass shootings this year (298) than there have been days on the calendar (293).

There have been 1,516,863 gun-related deaths since 1968, compared to 1,396,733 cumulative war deaths since the American Revolution. That’s 120,130 more U.S. gun deaths than U.S. war deaths. And that’s including the use of the most generous estimate of Civil War deaths, the largest contributor to American war deaths.

And even though homicides represent a minority of all gun related deaths, with suicides comprising the biggest share, that’s still a lot of people shot and killed with guns. According to CDC data, 63 percent of gun-related deaths were from suicides, 33 percent were from homicides, and roughly 1 percent each were from accidents, legal interventions and undetermined causes.

But still folks here in America are mostly unfazed when hearing about another mass shooting by a crazed and insane gunman…or just about anyone for that matter. Perhaps it’s because we are so used to the violence? Whether real or imagined, athletic or fantasized (as on TV and in movies), sharing in violence is a very big part of what it means to be a U.S. citizen.

This is what some of the residents of Roseburg, Oregon, where the Umpqua Community College shooting killing 9 people, occurred, had to say in the days following that horrible tragedy:

“This is hunting territory,”

“firearms: That’s not the issue,”

“Gun control is NOT the answer to preventing heinous crimes like school shootings,”

“What I fear most is that we’re going to create criminals … out of some of our most ordinary, normal, law-abiding citizens.”

“In Oregon we protect everybody’s Second Amendment rights; that’s what we do.”

Still, many Americans feel the inherent tragedy of such events like the Umpqua College shooting. Here is how the dictionary defines the word: Tragedy: Noun, plural: Tragedies

  1. a lamentable, dreadful, or fatal event or affair; calamity; disaster: stunned by the tragedy of so many deaths.

     2. a dramatic composition, often in verse, dealing with a serious or somber theme, typically involving a great person destined to experience downfall or utter destruction, as through a character flaw or conflict with some overpowering force, fate or an unyielding society.

It appears as though we here in the United States are the living embodiment of the 2nd definition of tragedy, also know as a Greek Tragedy, in which everyone knows what’s coming (sadness, despair and downfall) but no one can do anything about it. It’s sad and somber and senseless…no doubt…but we just can’t help ourselves or each other. We don’t have the resolve, the will or the power to act in our own defense. We leave it up to what we call fate or destiny and We wait and watch for the next, inevitable occurrence… and perhaps even take some perverse delight in its happening, just as the audiences in the ancient Greek theaters did.

But thankfully, we don’t have to worry because we are the greatest most powerful country on Earth, founded upon the greatest document ever written, by the greatest men who ever founded a nation, schooled in the works and words of God!

And that’s called hubris…and that hubris is a real killer…just ask the ancient Greeks.

4 Responses to “American Tragedy of Greek Proportions?”

  1. The Meandering Matriarch October 20, 2015 at 8:52 pm #

    Well said. Very well said.

  2. jacquelineobyikocha October 21, 2015 at 3:24 am #

    A real shame and unfortunate cycle. It has grown to become normalcy😳

  3. GP Cox October 21, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    You can add another to the list. In W.Palm Beach, FL; a school was in lockdown yesterday for a bomb scare. The cowards always hit a no-gun zone with people too young or helpless to defend themselves!!

  4. Morgan Mussell October 22, 2015 at 9:13 pm #

    Reblogged this on The First Gate and commented:
    The word, “tragedy,” is one of those words, like “awesome” that overuse has drained of meaning. It parallels the way overload has numbed us to the realities behind the headlines, so that our horror, just three years ago, over Sandy Hook has become a shake of the head and a, “Shit, not again,” as we grab our busy morning coffee. And maybe look over our shoulder at the sound of a backfire. And even listen to morons who say, “This is a hunting state,” as if that has anything to do with anything.

    Yes, when I lived in Oregon, not far from Roseburg, you would sometimes see cows in the outlying fields, with COW written in big red letters by farmers who had no great love for “hunters,” but that is another story.

    To once more quote the great Walt Kelly, and Pogo, his voice, “We has met the enemy and he is us.”

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