The epidemic of mass killings in America has left us numb and emotionally drained

Whether we blame guns, the paucity of mental health care or the simple loss of civility, something undeniably sick is happening in America.

Glenn H. Burkins

“I can’t hurt,” a Jewish friend posted to her Facebook page.

Just below, she also had posted a news photo — two women, each holding a candle, mourning the lives lost to hate inside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

It took me back to 1994, when I covered the slaughter of 800,000 people in Rwanda.

After the killing had ended, I sat with a man to talk about all I had seen and heard. One thing struck me as odd, I told my beleaguered host: For all the death and destruction, I had seen almost no Rwandans cry.

The man gazed at me for what seemed like an eternity, and then he said something I will take to my grave: “Everyone here has lost someone,” he explained. “To whom would we cry?”

Twenty-four years later, America is rapidly approaching its own moment of emotional crisis — a place where an epidemic of hate and mass killings has left too many of us numb and emotionally drained.

Eleven Jews in Pittsburgh. Nine black Christians in Charleston. Seventeen students in Parkland. Twenty-six worshipers in Texas. Forty-nine partygoers in Orlando. Fifty-eight music fans in Vegas.

Year after year, the gruesome body count continues. And this growing list says nothing of the endless stream of individual killings we slough off daily in America. Killings like the one that happened just yesterday at Butler High School.

Whether we blame too many guns, the paucity of mental health care or the simple loss of political and social civility, something undeniably sick is happening in America. As quickly as we move past one national tragedy, another crops up to take its place.

I cannot properly grieve the loss of life in Pittsburgh because it has forced me back to relive that unspeakable day in 2015 when a white supremacist walked into that Charleston church and opened fire.

To whom do we cry?

Glenn H. Burkins is publisher of Qcitymetro. Email editor@qcitymetro.com. 

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