A Broken Nation

This post was initially intended as a thought experiment in bicycle commuting, which to those of you who frequent this page should not come as a surprise. Each day we take our lives into our hands and gamble with it before would-be assailants in 5,000lb murder rockets. In the doldrums of our shared commute the aggressive and the oblivious meld into a tapestry of people trying to kill a vulnerable man.

The question, then, was whether the Castle Doctrine applies to our tiny slice of the road. Whether we, as cyclists, have a duty to retreat, or if, when an attempt is made on our lives by a passing motorist we may return fire under protection from the law. It was meant to be funny. Biting. True.

In light of the last 36 hours that seems in poor taste.

Instead we’re left with a kind of dull, hollow feeling that comes from the melange of anger, fear, heartbreak, and, ultimately, resignation that we, nationally, are unmoved by 600 partygoers being shot by a single man.

59 bodies are barely cool, but we carry with us the warmth of a president’s condolences, delivered 200 characters at a time. Brevity, it seems, is not only the soul of wit. And then after thoughts and prayers comes the tedium of parsing personal histories and allocating blame – bickering as we retreat to our partisan bastions and shield ourselves from the truth that ours is a broken nation.

That we do not care for the heartache of others. That until we are affected in a real and personal way there will be no change. That only when a majority of us are touched by violence will we move to make it right, and the chilling reality that that future is, perhaps, not so far off.

From those with the power to change we have warm condolences. We have thoughts and prayers. We have the knowledge that we will be judged harshly by history for deliberate inaction.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. – Abraham Lincoln

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