Much has already been written about last week’s terrible shooting in South Carolina. I usually try not to use this blog as a forum for my political convictions, but this time I find that I need to speak out, especially as an American who has spent most of her adult life observing America from afar.
There has been a great deal of outrage, of course. Many, including President Obama, have spoken out in despair and exasperation over this last tragedy. We all know about the terrible deep-seated racism that lies at the heart of American life. We also know about the insane adherence to a misguided interpretation of the Constitution which continues to allow people to arm themselves unnecessarily and too easily. The combination of racism and a lack of gun control is disastrous but unfortunately, I believe the problems in American society today are even broader than that.
You can’t legislate against racism. You can’t tell people what they can and cannot feel and believe. But you can work towards removing the causes of racism. I can’t help but feel that part of the blame for this falls to  a failed educational system. What do we teach our children and how? This latest killer barely made it into High School, I believe. How did that happen, and why? There is so much acerbic noise in the American air that we need sensible educational opportunities to combat that noise. America needs a system which educates its youth in a way that shows them that the United States is a part of an entire world full of different sorts of people. The children of America, and sure, the adults too, must be taught to look outward in understanding and tolerance, not fear. It is not just guns and racism that is plaguing America. it is ignorance and a deeply undeserving sense of arrogance.
The United States Constitution is one of the great documents in history. The founding principles of the United States are ideals that we all can aspire to. But the Constitution was written over two hundred years ago and in order for it to continue to serve its people, it must be more than it is . It must be a living document which can be altered to meet present needs. Of course, amendments must be difficult to make. They should never be done frivolously. But the politics and lobbying which stand in the way of necessary amending also keep us stuck in the past. The constitution must be amended to include gun control otherwise the population will never stop using ‘the right to bear arms’ as an excuse to cover up the crimes which are enacted over and over again on American soil by Americans themselves.
Shooting people while they are praying, shooting people while they are studying, shooting innocent people while they are trying to go about the simple activities of their daily lives — it’s an outrage caused not only by racism, a lack of gun control, ‘crazy people’. It is caused by a failure of the educational system and a close-minded, misplaced arrogance. As President Obama said, the United States is the only developed country that continually suffers these tragedies. The United States is the most dangerous developed country on earth.
I know my thoughts here are not especially cogent, not well-argued. But it doesn’t matter. I may be a writer, but my sense of shame, betrayal and horror is so great that I can’t find the words to express them coherently. All I can say is that although I am one of the most pollyanna-ishly optimistic and hopeful people I know, I feel hopeless when it comes to the United States.