Devin Scillian reflects on another school shooting, an ‘almost uniquely American horror’

Flowers and candles are placed outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday, May 25, 2022, to honor the victims killed in Tuesday's shooting at the school. Desperation turned to heart-wrenching sorrow for families of grade schoolers killed after an 18-year-old gunman barricaded himself in their Texas classroom and began shooting, killing several fourth-graders and their teachers. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) (Jae C. Hong, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

I can’t say I recommend spending time on social media on a day like yesterday.  But I did manage to come across two comments that rang true.  First was a tweet from journalist Dan Rather who noted, “There is so much to say. And nothing left to say.”  So true after another school shooting.

I can’t believe I’m using the word “another” when describing a school shooting.  How can we continue to see blood splattered all over the walls of grade school classrooms?  You would think a zero tolerance policy on school shootings would have kicked in by now and a zero tolerance policy would render obsolete the word “another”.  But we remain sadly, tragically unequipped to find a remedy for this almost uniquely American horror.  (We are also pretty unique in being a nation in which there are more guns than people.)  And as I’ve noted often, if we weren’t moved to act after Sandy Hook, I’m not sure we’re really all that interested in solving this deadly and violent puzzle.  So I’m with Dan; I’m not sure there’s anything new to say even as we feel moved to say something.

Related: Data: Number of active shooter incidents rising sharply in the US

But I was also intrigued to see a tweet from my friend Christy McDonald who wrote, “As we all struggle tonight- I can only hope more young people will become psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, social workers, counselors to treat the growing collective trauma…” And that struck me as terribly sad and terrible true. But it also occurred to me we need more of those professionals on the front end of this trauma, too. While we argue over guns and the Second Amendment, one thing that should be clear by now and upon which we can perhaps agree is that these murderous sprees are carried out by young (usually) males (always) who are disconnected, disaffected and disenchanted.

There’s often bullying hovering somewhere in the background. And just now, social media takes every slight and grievance and dials it up to an 11. Every night it seems we’re airing stories about violent road rage cases, and people losing it on airplanes and in restaurants. We can’t even carry out our revered “peaceful transfer of power.” Little wonder for those with access to weaponry that bullets would rain when the string finally snaps.

Right now, I’m listening to Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick emotionally urging us to understand, “We’re better than this.” But I’m afraid former NFL coach Bill Parcells was right; you are what your record says you are.  And right now, we’re a nasty place – angry, bitter, and vengeful.

Earlier this week,  I was struck by the election night remarks from the new prime minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese, who called his nation to kindness.  Kindness.  What a concept.  We’re really good at it after the shooting stops.  But we desperately need to become a kinder place every day – in our hearts, in our politics, on the streets, in our schools, online – all of the places a disaffected, angry young man can turn. 

Until then, we are what our record says we are.

About the Author:

Devin Scillian is equally at home on your television, on your bookshelf, and on your stereo. Devin anchors the evening newscasts for Local 4. Additionally, he moderates Flashpoint, Local 4's Sunday morning news program. He is also a best-selling author of children's books, and an award-winning musician and songwriter.