A few days ago around 20,000 people attended what should have been a celebratory Fourth of July evening in Philadelphia. There was music and fireworks on the Ben Franklin Parkway. Police presence was everywhere. It appeared that there was an atmosphere of safety and security.
I had decided to spend the early day at Lemon Hill park about 4 blocks away. It was very hot. I took a blanket, picnic basket, and frisbee. I contemplated if I should join the mass crowd later on that evening for music and fireworks. My friend and business associate Sherry Morrison accompanied me at the historic Lemon Hill park.
Thankfully, the sun wore us both out. I actually went to bed around 7 p.m. It should be noted I live only 10 blocks from where the mayhem took place at 9:45 p.m. Snoozing away, tending to a mild sunburn, I dreamt of the food and festivities I was missing.
The next day I participated in a monthly phone call with my Philadelphia S.C.O.R.E mentor Dave Campell. We chatted about our holiday. I mentioned I had decided not to attend the event on the Ben Franklin Parkway. It was then he told me about the two police officers that were shot and the calamity of the crowd trying to flee.
The Marshall Project recently reported that mass shootings in the U.S are on the rise and with higher death tolls. According to the report, 31 massacres occurred from 2017 through 2021 compared to 24 from 2012 to 2016.
Assault style weapons have been used in half of the shootings. The definition of a mass shooting says there has to be four (4) or more people slaughtered. There have been four mass shootings in 2022 alone.
A historical footnote: The deadliest mass shooting in U.S history occurred in 2017 at a music festival in Las Vegas. (58 victims were killed.)
Let us assume there are no absolute causes and effects here. But we can certainly point to the Covid 19 lockdown now lifted. Notice there were no mass shootings during the lockdown for obvious reasons. (There were no mass gatherings)
Are we to believe this is the new norm? Of course we can point to the fact that most of the perpetrators were isolated outcasts who suffer from obvious mental issues.
Access to assault style weapons. Possibly.
How about age? Most appear to be of a younger generation. Victims of a post modernism landscape with distrust for authorities and government institutions?
But why are other countries and cultures not suffering from these atrocities?
Is U.S culture the main culprit here? Is it the breakup of the nuclear family unit. High divorce rates. Poor economic opportunities. Moral relativism, Lack of universal values and belief systems. Pursuit of greed and pleasure? Distrust of politicians? Conspiracy theories? Innocence lost?
I guess I have no definitive answer. I know that as a child of the seventies, teenager of the 80's, and young adult in the 90's, major changes have taken place in our society. (Terrorism. 9-11. Evaporation of the Middle class. Mass incarceration. College tuition skyrocketed. Racism & Discrimination, Gender bias, Covid-19 disease and illness, Technology vs Nature.
Perhaps the greek myth of Pandoras box can shed some light on the issue. The box was a gift from Zeus. But it was also his tool for revenge.
The box symbolized a source of trouble, curiosity, and the unknown future. Pandora's action at the beginning of the story means the start of trouble. She released all the illness, disease, bitterness and all the misfortune. The seven evils of the box are also the seven deadly sins of Catholiscim. (i.e Wrath, Gluttony, Greed, Envy, Sloth, Pride and Lust.)
Pandora was told not to open the box. She is considered an ancient Eve in Greek Mythology. The first woman. There are obvious similarities to the Bible.
Let us end with Pandora closing the box and discovering a power called hope in it. Again, we can look to the bible for some clarification. Unlike worldly hope, biblical hope is not based on your effort or desires. It is something received. The God of hope pours hope into you through the Hoily spirit.
"Rejoice, in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12)