When Will We Wake Up?

Until now, I haven’t had much to say about the recent tragedies in Minnesota, Louisiana, Dallas or Orlando. Or should I say murders? After all, that’s what they were. Let’s not beat around the bush here: tragedy is someone being killed in a car accident or a natural disaster. These incidents were cold-blooded murder. Someone made a decision to take another person’s life.

Once again, we see cops on video taking the lives of two innocent black men, both brutally gunned down. A few nights later someone takes to the rooftops and guns down 11 police officers, five of whom died, and before all of this, a man walks into a gay nightclub in Orlando and murders 49 people.

There’s always outrage and protests when these so called “tragedies” occur. We yell, we scream, we demand change. None ever comes, and everything dies down until the next one occurs. So what can we do?

The first thing is to keep yelling and screaming. Don’t wait till something happens. But what should we be screaming about? How about addressing mental illness for real? We ignore it until someone gets hurt or killed and we go right to demonizing the person.

Take the Orlando shooting. The shooter, Omar Mateen, apparently pledged allegiance to ISIS, and of course, the media and politicians jumped all over that. But what about before that? Friends, neighbors and family members said that, besides being homophobic, the man had serious mental health issues. As usual, the media didn’t ask the important question of whether the guy was mentally ill.

How and why did he slip through the cracks and how can we stop this from happening again? Instead, as always, they went for the ratings. You could say the same thing happened at Sandy Hook.

As for the murders of the two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, I wrote in a Facebook post that it should be a federal mandate that police academy personnel scrutinize everyone who wants to join the force with a fine tooth comb. After all, everyone—from presidential candidates to those seeking low-income housing—are scrutinized down to whether they wear boxers, briefs or pantyhose. Why not law enforcement?

You can’t tell me there was nothing in these cops’ backgrounds that acted as a red flag. But as usual, the media is phoning it in again. As far as what happened in Dallas is concerned, we haven’t heard about it yet, but I can bet this military vet suffered from PTSD. It doesn’t excuse what he did, but what are we gonna do to prevent it from happening again?

As you can probably tell, I’m all for holding the media to account and demanding that it answers the tough questions when things like this occur. If they don’t turn it off until they do, it’s all about ratings with them: if we stop watching, they’ll come around. And finally, if we want real change, we’ve got to stop voting the same clowns into office. Look at our choices for president. A racist buffoon or a person who’s a little shady. Wake up, people.

James Shearer

James Shearer is a writer and co-founder of Spare Change News.

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