Home Opinion What have we become?

What have we become?


I'm sitting here on Wednesday afternoon watching multiple media channels that are covering the shootings in San Bernardino. Everyone that I see on the screen are honorable EDM professionals, who are doing their undeniable best to preserve the lives of their fellow citizens--even though the active shooter scene is not secure, none of the probable domestic terrorists that instigated this abomination are in custody, and there is a sinking realization among those of us that watch the news and root for our country and civilization to be successful--that we may be fighting a losing battle.

Think about it.

We have been warned about a variety of enemies that want to destroy us. Some of the warnings are credible: Al-Qaeda, ISIL, and their affiliates that are distributed in our country. Some of the warnings make no sense whatsoever: Syrian refugees, Mexican migrant workers, and peaceful followers of the Muslim faith in general.

Our media is not helping us hold our society together. One political candidate talked about 'baby parts being sold' by Planned Parenthood (a completely false allegation) that directly resulted in a mentally unstable individual killing several people at a women's health clinic for no reason whatsoever. This is more than ever likely to become the new normal--anyone with a gun, a conviction--and no fear of death or pain--has no barriers to violent action. And to make their life's statement, they will happily sacrifice innocents--you and me--to make their point.

Make it 'uncool'

You--we--Emergency Managers, for the sake of our communities and with the optimistic hope for our society that assumes that this is an aberration that we can overcome, will proceed forward using the proven law enforcement procedures that will prevent these individuals from killing again. And maybe that will work. We can hope so. But what we really need to do is make the kind of thing that happened today 'uncool'-- and I'm not going to pretend that I know how to do that.

But I will assert that it has happened MANY times in the past. The KKK was once cool and then suddenly uncool. Smoking was once sexy and then suddenly abhorrent. Right now, there is a perception among the disaffected in our society that if someone takes a gun and enacts their fantasy perspective of what the world should be--even if it's racist, white supreme individualist, misogynist, or whatever--that their efforts and sacrifice will gain them, for lack of a better term--lasting fame--and a lasting contribution to the fantasy society that they envision as the ideal.

More guns?

Emergency managers are in an awkward position that I/you/we/they didn't sign up for. Who could have envisioned that society could break down so quickly that there would be 355 mass shootings in the US so far this year? Who could have envisioned that powerful political factions would continue to assert that the solution to gun violence would be: more guns? Who would have envisioned that the solution to gun violence on university campuses would be: more guns?

None of this makes any sense--but it commits those of us that care about whether or not our neighbors that we've known for most or all of our lives--that might die from gun violence--to act on prevention actions that work--vs. acting on political rhetoric that makes things worse.

NO ONE--that knows anything about gun violence should give ANY credence to the statement: "The only solution to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." That has NO support among law enforcement professionals anywhere. So let's shut that comment down. That comment has resulted in MANY innocent deaths.

Start changing the norm

So let's start changing the norm. If you've been involved in the response or recovery of this or any of the violent events recently: BLESS YOU for caring about humanity. To live your life, you didn't need to do that--but the fact that you DID do that speaks well for the empathy that bodes well for the future of humanity.

If you have the ability and access to interdict anyone that might enact tomorrow's terrorist event: BLESS YOU if you can intervene with compassion and understanding to help those that want to lash out with hate to understand that hate doesn't work--and that there are alternatives.

You are our greatest hope.

Randall Cuthbert Dr. Randall Cuthbert is a retired APUS Professor of Emergency & Disaster Management. He has also worked as a Red Cross Shelter Supervisor, and spent a 20-year career as a US Air Force Civil Engineer Officer. His blogging interests include: protecting & enhancing the EDM profession in the areas of integrity, honorable public service, and social justice; education regarding the 'big picture' role of EDM in our society; educating our professionals and neighbors with regard to the greatest threat to our civilization--climate change; and in general terms, creating a better world for our children and grandchildren.