No, this is not normal.

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On October 2018, perhaps as a coping mechanism, I wrote a short essay about the double tragedy of the Jeffersontown and Pittsburg shootings. Ultimately entitled “No Words,” the essay was gut-wrenching to compose. But its message remains relevant today, in the wake of El Paso, Dayton and Chicago—and so many other shootings that the heart breaks at the thought.

Now as then, I find no words to properly grieve for the victims: Fellow human beings who were killed, or will forever live with the physical or emotional scars, as survivors, families or friends.

I know I am not alone: These are incomprehensible events, and overwhelming—often wordless—grief is a natural, human reaction. Still, neither grief nor words suffice. Not without action.

We cannot accept this as normal! We have, individually and collectively, the moral responsibility to do what we can to change the culture and politics that allow, even foster, these self-inflicted tragedies.   

Today we heard: “In one voice our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.” I agree, but the words rang distressingly hollow when read off a teleprompter by a president who has exacerbated these very problems, through speech and action. We have and will continue to hear similarly hollow words from other politicians, who have consistently opposed measures that might have reduced mass shootings.

It is time to truly, deeply acknowledge that we need a profound cultural and political shift, away from hatred, divisiveness, indifference and social injustice—all of which are unrelenting causes of violence.

Only such a shift can make us a better, safer country. As citizens and voters, we have the power. Will we have the will?

— Antonio Baptista

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