I Don’t Care Why Anymore.

Image: Law enforcement responds to a shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Spring, TX. (KSAT, via Associated Press)

It’s become a routine: first, a bare notice on the AP wires that “a shooting” has happened, more to come. Then the “more” comes: details about where it happened, a growing roster of dead, stories about the first responders, then, to fill the 24 hour news cycle, endless speculation about “the shooter” who is almost always dead, almost always male, almost always white.

Was he mentally ill? What was he angry about? Was he a terrorist? Was he something else? What was his motive?

Meanwhile, somewhere, emergency rooms are filling up with people screaming in pain, bodies blown to bits, lives shredded like so much confetti.

The news reporters count the tally: how many dead? How does this compare to other shootings? Was this “the biggest” in some way?

And I cannot help but think of the next “shooter,” collecting his guns and ammo, making his plans. We know that at least some of those men followed the news about other shootings.

And through it all, I want to cry, fling a shoe at my radio, and wail, “I DON’T CARE WHY HE DID IT.”

We have taken a national health crisis and made it into a drama. People (usually white males) murder (mostly by shooting) lots and lots and lots of people, and we debate when it is OK to talk about solutions, when it is OK to talk politics, and on and on about motive.

His motive was that he wanted to hurt people. The means was easy: it was probably a gun, which is easy to get and easy to use. The method: find a place where people are gathered, squeeze the trigger and let fly.

There is no mystery about the shooter, only sick fascination.

The real mystery is why we sit like looky-loos passing an accident, hanging onto the news for gruesome details, watching the commercials so we can get to the next segment, the next expert, the next scrap of information that doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.

We perseverate over his motive, we perseverate over his story, and meanwhile there are people in hospitals with lives ruined, limbs mangled, futures lost. I don’t care why he did it. I refuse to care about him. I care about the people who are hurt.

I don’t have any solution to this. More control of who gets a gun? We seem to lack the will for that.

The only word I have that makes any sense to me: Idolatry. We have chosen, as a nation, to enshrine a certain kind of device and make unfettered possession of it more important, more precious, than human life.

I am sick at heart, and I have no more words.


For my follow-up to this post, read Our Orgy of Anger.

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at http://coffeeshoprabbi.com/ and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

20 thoughts on “I Don’t Care Why Anymore.”

  1. This morning I attended a service in a First Christian Congregation because I wanted to participate in the Interfaith event they were organizing.

    Our rabbi and an imam were invited to talk after the fellowship meal together with the pastor of the church.

    One of the things that the pastor pointed out was that in the Western world and in America, being a dominantly Christian nation had brought complacency in practicing the tenets of the message faith is teaching. In other words, religious people are all a minority now.

    I learned of this latest mass shooting as I opened my computer to write on my temple’s page and retell of a wonderful experience it was to be together.

    The imam had reminded us how since last year attendance at his mosque had declined because of the fear someone would enter their worship place and attack them at the time they are involved in the deepest spiritual way.

    Our rabbi spoke about how to deal with our feelings of anger.

    Little did I imagine how timely what I heard this morning would mean I have to gather my thoughts quickly to act and contain my feelings, and spring into the place I need to be to serve peace and love in a world where the individual rights to react with violence is more protected than the precious gift of life.

      1. As in Jonas’ story, when G-d asks “is it good for you to stay angry?” he advocates for us to take action and be vocal and find the good in the midst of our frustrations.

        At least this is how I understood the message and how I am working for myself to apply on a daily basis so that I can grow from my emotional turmoil in a healthy way.

  2. I’m with you, Rabbi Ruth. Sometimes I’m so far beyond mad about so many things these days that I feel like a pressure cooker. I wish the Democrats and the way-too-many excellent causes asking for competing monies would just get together and form a united front of some kind to respond in a concerted way to the craziness that has been let loose in the world. So many of us rant and rage and roar (me included!) that I wonder if we aren’t giving the crazies what they want . . . so much confusion and chaos that they can get away with whatever they want. Eeeeeeek!

      1. Ha! So I am not the first to think that guns in the US are the object of idolatry! I would be aggravated except I am delighted to be in good company. Mr. Wills and I do not agree on many things, but I have great respect for his ability to express himself. He takes the idea farther – and I think he’s right on target.

  3. I was in a worship service this morning, and the thought came to me, “What if someone came in here and began shooting?” I had no idea where the thought came from, and I put it out of my mind. Then I got home and saw what happened in Texas and literally felt sick. Like you, I have no words, just a sick feeling and an immense sadness.

  4. For one thing, we have to be careful about how we label mental illness. Most people with illness like that suffer from some trauma related incident. As, it’s dangerous to jump to the conclusion that a “Mentally Ill” person is behind every mass shooting. The ramifications would be disastrous, should we simply label Mentally Ill people as “Threats” without taking into consideration their person.

    With this out of the way, there’s no excuse for these kinds of shootings. But, there is also no excuse for the Media to weigh in and give advice on how to stop it. MSNBC is tickled pink right now, advising Churches create “Security Plans” when churches are already a hostile environment to social well being. The last thing we need to do is make the congregations paranoid about new members. But, this brings into focus the fact that A: Churches are the first to adopt responses like this. B: They are the primary cure to this problem.

    The Church as it exists today is very antisocial in its construction, and the right manner of fixing the problem is to allow the church to become a more lax social institution. It’s really dangerous right now the precedent the news is trying to create. 1. That Mentally ill people are all dangerous, mass shooters in disguise. 2. That Churches ought to defend against them by creating “Security Plans.” This is dangerous on all fronts, primarily the most front being that we’re training our churches to be afraid of the spiritual darkness that creeps out in the nether: And, when you try to shield them from it, there can be no healing. It’s why I stopped going to church. There’s a spirit of wickedness and fear at every one I’ve been to, and they’ve done nothing right by me. As Jeremiah has said, “The pastors have spoiled the flock.”

    1. I agree that these shootings are not about mental illness – more about that in my next post. As for your words about churches, my experience is that congregations of worshipers, like the people within them, come in many different dispositions. I am sorry you have had so many bad experiences.

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