“The weight of this sad time we must obey, speak what we feel, not what we ought to say. The oldest hath borne most. We that are young shall never see so much nor live so long.”   – William Shakespeare, King Lear

An early morning baseball game in a leafy Virginia neighborhood. Elected officials in T-shirts and sweats practicing for a charity game, something refreshingly friendly and uncomplicated, a far cry from how they usually behave with each other. Shots rang out and in a matter of seconds the baseball field resembled a combat zone. Blood, terror, screams,  Steve Scalise horribly injured on the field. As has been reported, if he had not been there with a security detail who returned fire, everyone on that baseball field would probably have died. Five people were injured, and the shooter died.

This is the 153rd mass shooting in 2017, and we’re barely half way through the year. So will this be the one that makes us sober up and ask why? Will we finally decide to do something about our heavily armed country? All indications are — no. For a few hours, people talked about coming together, grieving together, setting aside differences, recognizing our common humanity. Even Donald Trump was uncharacteristically appropriate in his comments. But it didn’t take long for the viciousness to return…on both sides. There were those on social media who said the Republicans targeted that morning were trying to kill Americans through bad health care legislation, a budget that punishes poor people…So does that mean you don’t care that they were shot at by a man with a semi-automatic weapon? Gaby Gifford’s message of solidarity and compassion was, in part, answered by people who accused her of “staging this as another gun-grab attempt.” Another message said it should have been her who was shot (again); yet another said she enabled this and should go F herself. And, of course, in a short amount of time, Donald Trump was back to his early morning mean-spirited tweet storm.

To obey the weight of this sad time — by definition — means we have to own and acknowledge the weight of our current reality, one scarred with bullets and crowded with unnecessary deaths. We need to inhabit the realm of tears and loss in order to process it, make sense of how we got here, and ultimately right what is so out of balance. But we have become facile at snapping right back to our ordinary lives, so much so that we don’t see the dark waters rising up around us. We don’t see how our violent rhetoric, both anonymous and credited, sets the stage for violent acts. We stumble along, passing off vicious rhetoric as just a shallow game, ignoring the fact that words plant seeds which then sprout into actions.

I wish I could feel optimistic and say, Finally — this latest shooting will wake us up and things will change. But regrettably, I think we as a society are more interested in the disease than in the cure. In an odd quirk of timing, Megyn Kelly has interviewed Alex Jones for her Sunday night show — the man who has screamed out that Sandy Hook was a made-up event. While I unequivocally defend free speech and abhor censorship, why would anyone think he should be featured in a prime time interview? He’s not interesting, he contributes nothing to the betterment of society. Until we change our focus onto what is the best in us, and what is the best we can do for this country and each other, there will be more mass shootings, and more silence afterward.



  1. David Marks says:

    It is as if insanity has become our norm, and that those who govern, govern from the rooftop of the NRA headquarters. The acrimonious culture in this nation is much ado about the 2nd Amendment, and the inability of our elected officials to combat an arsenal of money, and guns. We certainly cannot excuse this recent horrific act of terrorism, but every violent act involving guns is just that, terrorism, and it begins, and ends, with the understanding that flexibility of legislation cannot ever be afforded the NRA and those who defy common sense when elected to office. You’re right, Patti, and you say it beautifully: this abuse of will is not soon to end. Going on, for me, would be to tamper with what you have so perfectly said. Thank you, Patti

  2. gigi shapiro says:

    Bravo….you always seem to say what I am feeling in the most concise and effective way. Thanks Gigi.

  3. Marta Kepes says:


  4. Tom Tom says:

    Fine piece thank you…The Irony of a “Gay Female, CAPITOL Police Officer, Saving the Lives of the Current GOP, Cannot be lost…She saved the Lives, of those, who were probably Prefer, she stay in a closet…

  5. Rodney Wilson says:

    On the gun issue, I have lost hope. I think we will continue to be a heavily armed society that relies more on firearms, not less.

  6. Ken W. Brown says:

    What has happened to our country, once the leader of freedom, fairness, democracy and compassion. For over two centuries our nation was the model for what can be. Never perfect and willing to admit it, yet striving to advance the cause of a perfect union for the people. As the rest of the modern world moves forward with Healthcare,arms control and social programs to the benefit of their citizens, why the hell are we seemingly content not to move, but in reality to revert backwards. History teaches us that nearly all great societies have failed miserably by resting on past laurels instead of advancing forward into the future.
    Thankyou Patti.

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