We Don’t Need a Fucking Hero

by Todd Wehrkamp.  

A mass shooting. A tragedy. A senseless act. Pure evil. Thoughts and prayers. #(Insert Here)Strong. #PrayFor(Insert Here).

And one more familiar piece.

A local resident fired upon the attacker and hitched a ride with a passerby for a high-speed car chase until it ended with the attacker dead in a side ditch. This ordinary citizen acted extraordinarily in the face of great danger to stop an act of terrorism. “We’re calling him our hero,” said sheriff Joe Tackitt when speaking of the man. It was the classic “good guy with a gun” argument in action, except the good guy got there after 26 people, half of which were children, were murdered.

Another mass shooting. A tragedy. A senseless act. Pure evil. Thoughts and prayers. #(InsertHere)Strong. Pray For (InsertHere).

And…

An unarmed, off-duty security guard risked his life to confront the shooter. He was shot in the process but was able to direct law enforcement to the shooter. Also a father of three destroyed a security gate and formed a human chain to usher 30 people to safety while he took a bullet to the neck. They were both proclaimed heroes from Fox News to the New York Times as 58 people were murdered and over 500 were injured.

This story plays on a loop in the US, on average, once a day and twice a month on a mass scale. Four or more people are killed by a shooter, there is someone who stops the killing, this person is hailed as a hero, its remains in the news cycle for a week at most, and it exits the national conscience. It is a distinctive part of our culture.

In stark contrast, one of the most unique, inspiring, endearing qualities of American culture is its endless optimism and positivity. Americans can generally find the bright side in anything and you can always spot one abroad by how much they smile. It is that very sunny disposition and endless belief that better days are ahead that led many of our immigrant ancestors to the land of opportunity. American culture is also the one of the hero. We salute our troops. Thank our servicemen and servicewomen. We even created the superhero who saves the day and gives the story a happy ending.

Our story however has none. Countless people have lost their family and friends, and without sufficient action there will, with near certainty, be more mass shootings. Instead we focus on the only positive thing we can. We find a hero for keeping the number of dead bodies at 13 children or at 58 concertgoers. This is not gallant. This is not something to celebrate or be sensationalized. It straddles a border of naivety and insanity. I understand that within tragedy lies heroism. It is comforting to reclaim our faith that people are innately good after horrific, inhumane acts of terror, but our intense focus on the silver lining is at the cost of seeing the reality of a very dark cloud that will hang over our national history forever.

We don’t need a fucking hero. We need to change. The amazing thing is, we agree on this. Over 80% of Americans believe that people with there should be gun-buying restrictions for people with mental illness, background checks for private sales and guns shows, and bans for people on no-fly lists. We need each and every sane citizen to do more than find hope in a someone who should have never had to act heroically in the first place. Call your representatives and plead for gun control legislation before we gain another hero.

Todd is a Berlin-based human writing on his friend’s blog.

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