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What the Oregon shooting tells us

Murder is always a terrifying matter; it is more frightful for those who are amidst such horrific incidents. American people once again woke up to such a drastic event of a mass killing in the State of Oregon. What’s worse is that it was the second school shooting in the same state with the same police officer in charge; Sergeant Joseph Kaney has witnessed them both.

Last Thursday morning, a 26-year-old gunman named Chris Harper Mercer opened fire inside the classroom on the school staff and the students in Umpqua Community College in Oregon. The shooter, who killed ten people and left several wounded, then killed himself during the shootout with the police. The previous incident was back in 2006 when a teenager shot a 16-year-old student named Joe Monti in the back by a handgun. Thankfully, Joe survived this horrible event.

We do not know if this mass killing will be the last in the U.S. as Americans have confronted an average of more than one mass shooting per day so far this year. In the same manner, during the address President Obama gave hours after this tragic event, he offered his condolences to the families who lost their loved ones and prayed not to have similar events in the future. Yet, he continued his words by saying he cannot guarantee such killings won’t happen again and he reflected his discomfort by saying, “It’s a terrible thing to say that.” He is quite right because he has been giving addresses to the nation after many similar incidents in Connecticut, Colorado, Arizona, Texas and in Charleston, South Carolina. For example, last year in June, the people of Oregon regrettably confronted another school shooting that left a student dead and a teacher injured; in the speech Obama gave following it, he stated “My biggest frustration [as President] is that this society hasn’t been willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who can do damage. We’re the only developed country where this happens. And it happens weekly.” However, since the number of tragic events increase, President Obama’s anger was more visible in his last address by showing his complaint as thus: “Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it ... We have become numb to this.”

If we look at the statistics, we come face to face with the terrifying fact derived from the shootings in the United States. This Oregon shooting is the 45th school shooting in 2015 alone and there were at least 134 mass shootings between January 2009 and July 2015 as specified by the Everytown for Gun Safety mentioned in Newsweek Magazine.

Most people consider gun control regulations as a solution to put an end to the recurrence of such horrible murders. Taking the necessary measures may certainly be helpful to make the people feel safer and prevent some of the killings from happening. However, this would not limit the purchase of guns, as Harper Mercer had fourteen firearms, which had all been purchased legally. This would only solve the problem in the short term and only partially. The primary motive behind such horrific incidents is the hatred harbored inside those psychopathic people. When we examine the latest occurrence, we see the murderer’s apparent hate against Christians. According to the father of one survivor, the shooter was asking the targeted people if they were Christians and those ones who answered “yes” were shot in the head and those who said “no” were only wounded.

As we see in this tragic event, so many problems stem from the very same reason: Lovelessness. Self-centeredness lies at the heart of lovelessness. A person who does not harbor love in his heart only thinks of his own comfort and benefits. That person does not think about other people, does not show love or compassion to them, but instead wants everyone else to care about them and make sacrifices for them yet. Such a person never bothers doing the same goodness for others. Such a person then does not give any value to the life and his conscience becomes muddied with hatred and egotism. Like a contagious disease, this immorality spreads through the whole of society.

Such societies may generate murderers like Harper who are full of hatred, and their hatred may be against people of any faith or race. As a result, there is persistent negative media coverage. Some societies may also become desensitized to troubles that are far away from them; they sometimes forget the fact that there is no guarantee that the same might happen to them or their loved ones. They may find no one to care about them just as they did not care about those who suffer a world away.

People who are living distant from faith or moral values have constant anxiety in their hearts. For example, some Americans fear the various conflicts taking place in the Middle East as they listen to the news because America is somehow involved in some of them and thus refrain from visiting the region for any reason. They confidently yet erroneously believe in the power of their government to protect them from being harmed. The Oregon shooting proves that such beliefs are baseless since the government was helpless and could not protect the lives of ten innocent people. No government has the power to protect its people unless love and compassion are harbored in the heart of its society. However, they can achieve harmony and peace by having a loving attitude. Besides, it is not as difficult as people presume to have a society based on good morals and love since everyone bears love inside: A loveless, selfish and cruel attitude will not bring any good to anyone. Thus it should be our primary duty to teach the beauty of good morality such as showing love and compassion to people, forgiving others, enjoy giving and helping the needy, and making sacrifices on our part. 

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