America is at war with itself.
This past week, we added 5 more to the death toll, only this time it was those that are paid to protect us.
I don't feel the need to write a laundry list of the recent acts of war that have occurred in these United States; we all know the list by memory now.
Up until quite recently, we never had the perception of the United States as a particularly violent place. Sure, there are accidents, unintended deaths, and of course murder and mayhem that happen every day, but for much of my life I would have to categorize more like background noise than anything I should put in the forefront of my daily activities.
There is an exception, of course. In 1989, a friend of mine was murdered
by a mutual acquaintance. I knew the victim quite well, as we come up through scouts together. His older brother was a contemporary of mine, and I was the victim's patrol leader. I knew the perpetrator only casually, from a couple of shared classes at Saugus High School.
It's not something you forget; even now, every June I wonder which scout from my old Troop has received the annual memorial scholarship. But time does go on.
When we think of acts of war, we tend to place them in those places where actual war is happening. We're now approaching 15 years at war, after 9-11. I think for the most part we've been able to disconnect our psyche from what is going on in many war zones around the world from our daily lives. Last weekend, for example, it was nearing the end of Ramadan in Baghdad when a series of suicide bombers struck, killing nearly 200 people. I read about it in the BBC and some local news sources - it barely ever registered in the US.
We've all written about things like Newtown, Orlando, and San Bernardino. We're outraged for a day, then than magical "disconnect" sets in again and we forget until the next one happens.
No matter what the color of your skin, or what uniform you wear, or who you love, or if you go to school, or gather in public places - it matters not. Everyone is a target today. Our leaders would have you believe that there are radicalized Muslims hiding around every corner, but the reality is almost none of the near-daily violence in the United States is carried out by those followers of Mohammad.
No Lives Matter anymore - I'm just as likely to be killed by a random gunman storming REI in Framingham this afternoon as a citizen going about their business in Ramadi.
What does matter is the gun culture. We have entered an endless cycle of violence in this country. After every shooting, after every violent act, the answer is always "If more people had guns, they could have prevented this." It didn't matter in Dallas - professionally trained law officers, each of them with a gun on his hip, and probably more available in their vehicles, couldn't even protect themselves. Joe Citizen with a handgun, taking wild potshots at a perceived threat, is only going to add to the carnage. But you can't tell the NRA or the GOP that - the money pipeline between the two is just too strong.
It almost makes me want to go and get a firearm myself. Why not, at this point?