We have seen a virtual bumper crop of headline stories recently in the media.
- President Trump’s former campaign chair was tried and found guilty of 8 counts of felony tax fraud, and the president’s long-time lawyer and “fixer” pleaded guilty to 8 counts of violating campaign finance laws.
- Hurricane Lane flooded the Hawaiian Islands with record-setting torrents, while back on the mainland, wildfires swallowed thousands of acres of forests and structures in the west as the east sweltered in much-above-average temperatures.
- Reports indicated that over 500 children forcibly separated by I.C.E. officials had still not been reunited with their parents.
- A 24-year-old white gunman sprayed bullets into a crowd of contestants at a gaming tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, leaving 11 injured and killing three, including the perpetrator.
- A recent investigative report showed clear evidence that hundreds of Catholic priests in Pennsylvania sexually molested thousands of young people while the Church hierarchy ignored the incidents. An influential Catholic Bishop accused Pope Francis of engaging in an active cover up and has demanded the Pope’s resignation.
- Vietnam War hero and long-time Congressional legislator, John McCain, succumbed to his battle with brain cancer. And, yet, his feud with President Donald Trump continues.
The main story for most outlets focused on the down-to-up-then-down-again positioning of the flag on the White House flagpole after the death of Senator McCain.
Where is the sense of outrage by the continual barrage of priestly sexual assault stories? And where is the sense of urgency spawned by the continual barrage of gun violence that plagues our nation? Where are the legislative reforms that can begin to stem the tide of both issues?
Our nation has become so desensitized to violence that it now normalized to the same extent as daily weather forecasts.
Some forms of desensitization serve beneficial and progressive functions. Seeing a multiracial couple or two people of the same sex walking hand-in-hand together down the sidewalk once triggered people’s biases. While for some people this is still the case, for others, it has become normalized in their lives.
Unfortunately, many people have become desensitized to the day-to-day sexual and gun violence – allowing it to reach epidemic proportions. Young people now expect gun violence to touch their lives if it has not already done so.
The media and the public have limited attention spans.
Reports of the April 20, 1999 shooting massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, the December 12, 2012 murders of elementary-age students and their teachers in Newtown Connecticut, and the 2002 priest sex scandal and coverup in the Boston Catholic Archdiocese shocked and captured the attention of a frightened and enraged nation.
Soon, however, the media took us onto the next big story, and the process continually repeated itself. But each time, when the media reports on incidents of sexual or gun violence, the time frame grows increasingly shorter before other stories drown them out.
Rather than following each tweet from an obviously deranged resident of the Oval Office, we must focus our energy into pressuring our lawmakers to tackle the important problems facing our country in the absence of presidential leadership.
Gun violence takes 33,000 lives each year on average. Priests continue to molest young parishioners as the coverups continue.
It’s time to resensitize ourselves and the nation to the scope of the problems.