If you have an inner voice telling you that how this country is now is not right, / that these shootings aren’t right, / That racism isn’t right, / That treating immigrants as they are isn’t right, / honor that voice. / It’s your heart reminding you that love is real, that there is a more beautiful way to live. / Nurture this voice, and link it to others. / We are not alone. / We are not bound to live in a starless night. / Love will win. InshaAllah. / It will come into public, as justice.
On Being Staff:
“In response to the mass shooting in Las Vegas, we offer this special commentary. President Trump called it “an act of pure evil.” Courtney questions why we use the word “evil” to explain such violence. And, she argues, why we should stop making that moral bargain. I realize this is a complex issue. How do you think through it?”
The Mental Bargain We Make When We Use the Word ‘Evil’
by Courtney E. Martin
“’Evil’ is a cop-out. It distances us from asking hard, important, and specific questions about how this could have been prevented and what each of us can do to save lives — actual human lives — in the future. … If there is evil here, it is complacency, and it is collective.”
I don’t want to make that moral bargain in my brain anymore. I’m not going to call Stephen Paddock “evil,” and I’m not going to sit idly by when anyone else does — whether that person is my president or my neighbor. Not for his sake, but for my own. I refuse to live in a moral world of my own making where mass shootings are inevitable and don’t have anything to do with me. Instead of numbing myself with that powerful little word — “evil” — I’m going to dig into moral and strategic questions like:
Why did Paddock have 23 firearms (including an AR-15-style assault rifle) and hundreds of rounds of ammunition? Why does anyone have 23 firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition?
Why can’t this country agree on common sense gun legislation that would prevent the mass murder of innocent people?
What was Paddock’s mental state? Who knew about it? Why didn’t he have connections with people who were more aware of the dangers of his mental state and capable of getting him help?
Is mental illness on the rise among white men and, if so, why?
What kind of funding goes into addressing the mental health of men like Paddock?
What have I, personally, done in the wake of mass shootings in the past? How can I do something different?
“Evil” is a cop-out. It distances us from asking hard, important, and specific questions about how this could have been prevented and what each of us can do to save lives — actual human lives — in the future.
None of us with the power to vote, organize, and advocate is innocent in a country where this is not only possible, but frequent. Paddock intersected with our health systems, our schools, our gun policies before he put his finger on that trigger. If there is evil here, it is as subtle as you or me, anyone with a beating heart, pointing a finger at one dead man as if the moral responsibility lay only with his cold corpse.
If there is evil here, it is complacency, and it is collective.
On Being Staff:
“I think what we’re seeing actually is not compassion fatigue, but empathic distress.”
Buoyancy Rather Than Burnout in Our Lives
‘It’s easy to despair at all the bad news and horrific pictures that come at us daily. But Roshi Joan Halifax says this is a form of empathy that works against us. There’s such a thing as pathological altruism. This zen abbot and medical anthropologist has nourishing wisdom as we face suffering in the world.’