Senseless acts of brutality like Sunday's mass shooting in Orlando overwhelm the emotions. Mere words can't describe the anger, frustration and deep sorrow that we are once again enduring as a nation. But spontaneous vigils in Harwich Port and Chatham Monday reminded us not to feel two particular emotions.
The first is complacency. More than just the numbness that takes over when we're repeatedly exposed to traumatic images and stories, complacency is the feeling that mass shootings represent some kind of “new normal” for society.
Though they occur with sickening frequency, these violent outbursts cannot become a regular part of life in America. We need to continue looking for ways to encourage peace and tolerance, while exploring new means of keeping attackers from bringing their bloody plans to fruition. Part of this discussion is obviously about controlling public access to assault weapons. If the rest of the nation had gun laws similar to the ones in Massachusetts, the perpetrator of the Orlando attack apparently would not have had legal access to guns, owing to his history of domestic violence.
The second emotion we need to avoid is hopelessness.
Fighting for a more peaceful society can seem futile. But just as our nation is collectively wounded by acts of violence, we are collectively motivated to find ways to teach tolerance. The antidote for hopelessness was in ample supply in Harwich Port and Chatham Monday evening, when people of different backgrounds, ages, social statuses and experiences came together in interfaith vigils for the Orlando victims.
Each of those candles provides a strong beacon through dark times.