Comfortably Numb: The New American Normal?

 I had planned to do a nostalgic gratitude piece today. To WordPress, to everyone who has shown up and supported me in growing my website, and to say how thrilled and grateful I am to have  500+ followers, on this first year anniversary of Cancelling my planned  First Annual Blog Love Fest  with the news that there has been another mass shooting  in the United States. I simply can not do warm and fuzzy today.

According to the New York Times:

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Police officers here spent the night combing the scene of a shooting rampage that left 14 dead and 17 others wounded and scouring the backgrounds of two suspects, a husband and wife who died in a shootout, looking for reasons behind the attack. The suspects,  armed with .223-caliber assault rifles and semiautomatic handguns and wearing masks and body armor — are believed to have opened fire at a social services center here around 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

My nostalgia comes in the form of a re-post from October 5, 2015 following the Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon.  Spend some time in your mind and heart with the data I researched out. Data that represents the murders  of our daughters, sons, mothers, neighbors, fathers, brothers, co workers, and friends. Of people who, like yesterday, were  attending their office Christmas Party yesterday at a facility that serves those with disabilities.
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone at home?
Comfortably Numb- Pink Floyd
The daily reality of living or visiting in the United States is that whether going to the market, church, school mall, the movies, a coffee shop, or just walking down the street, there is a risk of being shot.


It gives me no solace  to know that the President of the United States and I share a sense of ‘frustration” over  the gun violence in the United States. It is awful to hear the  adjectives “normal” and “routine.”  being used to describe the deaths and injuries  by guns in America.  The citizens of the United States are  referred to as “Numb” when it comes to being the collateral damage in the politics and profits of our weapons industry. The most recent mass school shooting at  Umpqua Community College, in Oregon  resulted in nine more individuals murdered and at least nine more injured by the gun fire.

I believed  following the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown murders, where  a classroom of six and seven year old children ( and the staff trying to protect them,) were shot America had reached a  tipping point.  That the United States citizens would rally for change to the way we buy and sell guns.  This would be  the United States of America’s  watershed moment. I was so wrong.

There have been 142 School shootings since the Sandy Hook School murders.

Spend some time with your heart and mind with these numbers:

As of August 26, 2015 the United States  averages more than one mass shooting per day. A ‘mass shooting’ defined as a shooting with four or more victims. That is 238 days with 247 mass shootings. The number has increased to 294 since August.

15—The number of times during his presidency that Obama has made a statement about a mass shooting.

294 – The number of mass shootings (defined as when four or more people were injured or killed by a gun) in 2015.

45—The number of school shootings that have taken place in 2015.

142 – The number of school shootings since the 2012 massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

9,957—The number of people who have been killed by gun violence this year.

20,269 – The number of people who have been injured by a firearm this year.

153,144—The number of people who were killed by homicide in which firearms were used between 2001 and 2013 (the last year that such data was available).

7—The number of children and teens who die every day, on average, from gun violence (Five are murdered and two kill themselves).

20– The number of times higher the homicide rate by guns is for Americans, compared to those who live in other developed countries.

President Obama tells us,  “There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America.” That is Three hundred and Twenty One Million, Eight Hundred Ninety One Thousand, Eight Hundred , Fifty Nine (321,891,859.)  guns.

Folded into  President Obama’s frustration, is the solution:


This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America.  We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.  When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer.  When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer.  When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities.  We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives.  So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations doesn’t make sense.

So, tonight, as those of us who are lucky enough to hug our kids a little closer are thinking about the families who aren’t so fortunate, I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws, and to save lives, and to let young people grow up.  And that will require a change of politics on this issue.  And it will require that the American people, individually, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or an independent, when you decide to vote for somebody, are making a determination as to whether this cause of continuing death for innocent people should be a relevant factor in your decision.  If you think this is a problem, then you should expect your elected officials to reflect your views.

The daily reality of living or visiting in the United States is that whether going to the market, church, school mall,the moviesa coffee shop, or just walking down the street, there is a risk of being shot. For yourself, your children, your parents, your neighbors, friends and coworkers; everyone is at risk at anytime.  Just how long are we willing to stay ‘Comfortably Numb?

Update: December 6, 2015: Read an excellent piece today in the New York Times by Ross Douthat.   Here is the link. Liberalism’s Gun Problem Russ



  1. Belatedly, I read your post. It seems you must be determined to send this post into the world regularly. It is information for profound reasoning, and I hope more and more people will awaken, and act. Best wishes to you Johanna.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been gone for over eight years. Yet what I hear from friends and family not to mention the news (it is much different in Europe) I am sickened.

    BTW, today is was 35 years since John Lennon was shot outside the Dakota in NYC. Imagine…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh thank you so much.
    Respect, recognition and embracing differences, generosity,forgiveness, tolerance, intelligence, a functioning government that represents all the citizens, compromise, ….all the good things about Peace are just not good for assault weapons sales in the United States.


  4. This post is just one reason why your blog is so significant. Thank you for your courage to speak out. I like that you used Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb… it speaks volumes. My own quote which I’m posting tomorrow, includes one from John Lennon, who sadly was shot 15 years ago day after tomorrow. “All we are saying, is give peace a chance.”


  5. Looking in from the outside of the USA, I too thought Sandy Hook would be the final straw but apparently not. May since I not American I should stay out of the discussion but then I am thinking this mind set left ISIS unchecked and fuelled.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Freedom of speech is very important, and I respect your right to your belief. But I respectfully disagree that more gun control is needed.

    This was from the LA times: The shooters in San Bernardio had a home life described as a “traditional” Muslim household. “The women would sit with the women, men with the men. Men did not interact with her,” Abuershaid said. “Brothers have never seen her face. She was totally covered. They just knew her as ‘Syed’s wife.’ ”

    People didn’t report suspicious activity for fear of being deemed racist.

    I’m not the kind of person who would feel comfortable carrying a weapon, and yet I have great respect for the 2nd amendment and understand why it’s there. Sad to say that the times when attacks are stopped by law-abiding citizens carrying a weapon are under-reported.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t want to presume but at the same time I can’t help thinking that maybe what other Americans need is a new point of view?
    Listening yesterday to a radio talk about the goings on in California, another listener called in and drew the hosts’ attention that whatever the reason, if personal, political, ideological – a shooting like that ends in the same thing: Terror.
    I think I agree with this anonymous listener…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I recommend reading former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’ essay on the second amendment and how it has been misinterpreted and misappropriated. As for getting a weapon for protection, studies have shown this leads to more innocent deaths than lives saved. And as a police officer posted on Facebook recently, if he comes upon a scene where multiple people have weapons, how is he to know which one is the “good guy”?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. We are a selfish, weak nation. Or rather, our elected “representatives” are. Let’s all try to guess where today’s mass shooting will be, shall we? And then sit back and wait for empty “thoughts and prayers” from politicians financed by the NRA.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thanks, JoHanna. I wanted to be honest and say, yes gun control makes it difficult for mass shootings to occur but, again, if someone wants to hurt us, they’ll get really creative. If we do something small every day towards creating a peaceful world, perhaps the outrage at mass shootings would not feel so hypocritical.


  11. Even if there would be such extremely restrictive weapon-laws in the United States like in Indonesia, it is probably too late, because so many weapons are in circulation. Here the savages have to kill each other with knives, which is much more difficult. There are nearly no shootings. Sometimes different police-departments shoot at each other or the police fights with the army.
    However, in the Philippines, where in every major city weapons are available, the situation is similar to that in the United States. And almost every American action movie shows me the fascination of Americans with their guns.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I grew up in the Commonwealth, JoHanna, and have no issues with guns, in general, as they’re used for sport. Back home, executives and other business people would carry concealed, licensed firearms to the office. I would not feel threatened by people owning guns; I feel scared and threatened by a person whose ideas are so fixed that s/he would be willing to use a weapon to force agreement. Bullying with words and other forms of physical abuse, to me, require the same low emotional quotient. But I ask myself what will stop people from forcing others to take a position they don’t want to take? Is it more respect, more education about human rights or more rules? Any tool can become a deadly weapon in the hands of a dark, deviant mind. Having said all of this, 295 mass shootings in the USA this year is totally out of control, bizarre and crazy. Zero mass shootings would make sense to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. A beautiful post Johanna! Made me reflect over these things. They should make up a law where they test people in order to offer them the right to possess a gun. And abolish black market and illegal gun trafficking. I wonder if this will ever happen.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. The numbers are just staggering. There probably weren’t as many senseless shootings in the wild west of yesteryear. It is maddening listening to the collection of political fools insist that making guns so readily available has nothing to do with people getting shot up all over the country.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. An awful thing happened yesterday. What will it take for people to think beyond their right to bare arms? Your post was thoughtful and impactful. I hope others read and see the US needs to make changes to gun laws before more innocents die.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. It’s a good idea to carry on certain occasions to personally protect others from hooligans before the cops get there. Also, look forward to more gun regulation like in a “well regulated militia” (second amendment).

    The eagle won’t fly without the left wing & the right wing flapping in some kind of unison. Otherwise, Big Bird stays perched ~ and the slaughter continues…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. yes! I did not grow up around guns at all but I am around people now in my rural area who hunt, etc. and I understand that and they take it very seriously, safety and explaining about how to use a gun etc. not a game at all!! But this is something nuts!!! crazy!! thanks for addressing it!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. It is sad when you have to worry each day sending your kids off on the school bus, sad when you say goodbye to your college kids and that nagging worry in the back of your mind! Sad to worry about going to the mall, will you make it home? When I was a kid people had guns for hunting and when they lived out on property!! Sad and scary new world!!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. You know JoHanna, I live on the opposite side of this round world. In USA there is a ‘mass shooting’, in Europe there is now a ‘ mass bombing’ 😦
    The law that allows people to wear weapons with almost no restrictions is nonsense for us because here such a thing is forbidden. But so many children killed is a dramatic tragedy!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Walt Whitman has said it just right. I thank you for bringing these words to the conversation.

    I agree with you about the voting.

    I appreciate so much you for showing up this morning and sharing your thoughts.


  21. JoHanna, I am having trouble posting today, too. Everything seems so insignificant compared to the horror in the news. Wish that the answers were easier or simpler, if an entire world cannot figure things out, I don’t really feel qualified to express an opinion. But I’m so weary of the horror and the carnage and lack of humanity. What on earth is wrong with people?

    Liked by 3 people

  22. President Obama is absolutely correct. I think the greatest threat in this polarized nation of ours is the apathetic voter. Democracy falters with each and every non-voting citizen. What will become of this nation in the next few years? I don’t know, but I’m not overly optimistic. But I am damned determined to vote for every candidate who understands the obvious need for some form of gun control. What bothers me the most is the current mentality of gun lovers: “If folks on the street had been armed, they could have shot the shooters.” These same people also advocate arming teachers. Insanity.
    Can I say something good? Well, as a matter of fact I can! I recently, yesterday, opened a book of Whitman’s poetry…and it’s not like I go around reading Walt Whitman…gaaaa. But, for some odd reason, I had a volume of Whitman’s poetry on the desk. How did it get there? I have no idea. So I opened it up, it’s one of those nice Franklin Library books…I got it cheap on Ebay. I opened it to page 125. I read for the first time in my life the short poem I Dream’d in a Dream. Here’s the whole poem.

    I Dream’d in a dream I saw a city invincible to the attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth,
    I dream’d that was the new city of Friends,
    Nothing was greater there than the quality of robust love, it led the rest,
    It was seen every hour in the actions of the men of that city,
    And in all their looks and words.

    How beautiful. I don’t want this country to go “back” to anything. I want this country to go forward into Whitman’s dream.

    Liked by 4 people

  23. As far as the impression in my place, US has the biggest war industry and most of the people there don’t support this policy, but the govt don’t listen to people, ever or anywhere!! Can you imagine what is the condition of war striken countries?

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Omg!! I read in books, heard from friends about the widespread availability of arms in United States ..but did not know it is so bad . I am feeling sad and numb for human are no longer human.In every part of the world, the innocent common people are attacked and killed every day.. I am out of word for it.. Everywhere Govt. is shedding crocodile’s tears and using these incidents for politics, where they are the one who should take action .

    Liked by 1 person

  25. It’s hard to click the “Like” button, when I don’t really like what is going on in this country at all. I “Like” that you are calling us all out, and writing publicly about it. I don’t “Like” that it is necessary to write posts like this in the first place. After almost 250 years perhaps we are just now starting to reap the harvest of what we have sown in our political system, seeing that seemingly impossible to achieve balance between individual freedom and government oversight starting to topple us into chaos.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. I totally disagree with everything you have said referencing guns. It is quite evident to me that the bad guys have the guns and not enough of the good guys do. I will not be a victim. After yesterday I know longer feel safe and that my government can or will protect me. I will go and buy a gun and get trained on how to use it. I will do this before this lame administration tries to prevent me and my 2ND AMENDMENT RIGHT. Blessings ❤


Comments are closed.