Saturday, December 15, 2012

An atheist reaction to the Newtown Connecticut shootings

I literally haven't said anything to anyone on this topic. Of course I'm saddened and disgusted, but as an atheist, I find myself with nothing to say. It's not like I have a doctrine of bullshit to flip through and recite the appropriate recuperative words for the circumstances.

I do feel pressured to say something, like everyone else does. I don't think there's any point to saying anything.

"The victims are in my thoughts" seems vacuous and purely gestural, which is especially completely useless if that Facebook post never is relayed to any of the victims, or friends/family of any of the victims.

"They will be in my prayers" seems even more vapid and useless, for, you know, atheist reasons.

Anyone who is human feels frustration about not being able to do anything. The deed is done, and can't be simply reversed. These purely gestural responses I think are more about people trying to trick themselves into thinking they're doing something to help. It's self delusion.

When disaster strikes, I'm typically among the many to donate to organizations like the Red Cross, but in this instance, money isn't really an issue. Maybe I'll dig up a charity anyway. Funerals aren't cheap, after all, and some of those killed were helping pay the bills. So there's that.

That's the point - trying to find something that actually will help.

Many are objecting about trying to politicize the event, as though it's disrespectful. Maybe that's the only thing we can do is try to solve the problem before it happens again.

I've listened to some who insist on giving it at least a day, and to spend a day "paying respect" - just as vacuous as "being in my thoughts." What would be more respectful than trying to solve the problem? When the wounds are fresh, we aren't allowed to address it. After that, people have forgotten and moved on, and the problem seems less urgent, and nothing gets done.

So basically, nothing is accomplished.

I don't know what the solution is. It seems silly to arm everyone to the teeth - like throwing gasoline on a fire. I don't think gun advocates have thought that scenario through (cross-fire, easier access to anyone who has a moment of pure anger, etc). On the other hand, having no guns doesn't solve the problem of violence and other methods would be employed - it'd probably be about as effective as an approach as abstinence-only education is towards reducing unwanted pregnancy/STDs/abortions. On the other hand, guns are finely-tuned, like nuclear weapons, for destruction, and are very efficient. It'd be difficult to murder 30 people with a golf club. Even that knife attack in China resulted in no deaths.

We need to pool our brains and hammer out a multi-pronged solution.

I'll tell you what I do know.

If we're going to solve the problem, it's going to be up to us, as humans. Delegating that task to an invisible pixie in the sky is not bound to work. It's bound to distract us until the next shooting.

P.S. Huckabee - you're insane.

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