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EDITORIAL

When thoughts and prayers may not be enough …

Whether we like it or not there are times when a national community has to recognise that the national historical experience has generated moral and legal legacies which must be addressed in a reasonable and responsible manner to allow recognition and redress of problems – social, economic and cultural – to permit society to regain the equity, balance and harmony needed to allow renewed national progress and pride.
In Australia’s case there are some stand-out snags in the flow of our national history.
These include appropriate responses to the problems and aspirations of our own ‘first nations’ people.
And long overdue recognition of the shortcomings and failure at the legal and cultural levels of the impact of disrespect, ill-treatment, exploitation, and, in the worst cases – outrageous abuse – of countless thousands of women in a supposedly enlightened society.
And, of course, the need for a rational, workable national plan for an environmentally responsible energy future.
It may be wishful thinking that if we are ‘fair dinkum’ in our approach to the above issues and others we may be capable of coming to satisfactory solutions to make for a happier national future.
There are, however, other nations around the globe where sufficient reserves of societal goodwill do not exist to permit needed democratically-decided social and legal change.
One example is that long-regarded bastion of the ideal of democratic order and social justice, the United States of America.
The US continues to bemuse and worry observers of social progress in the wake of the recent presidential transition.
It is not only observers living abroad but increasing numbers of Americans are worried about the apparent indifference to death by law-makers and individual citizens alike because of a culture that embraces the rights of the individual over the rights of a community.
Recently, two mass shooting in one week – in Atlanta and in a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado – have resulted in 18 deaths.
The usual responses have been recorded from US politicians, gun-rights supporters, and the relatives of victims.
The problem is not just the major killings rampages which regularly occur, reports The Washington Post.
Rather, such events are merely spikes in a daily calendar of 100 gun-deaths a day in the United States. 2020 – the COVID year – saw 24,000 Americans die in gun violence. The total included 300 children, shot and killed.
Another 24,000 people died by suicide with a gun in the same year.
A Washington Post columnist, Robin Girvan, put it this way on March 24:
“A dreadful normalcy has returned. Muscle memory demands that we lament it — even as all evidence suggests that many of us are unmoved by death. It doesn’t cause behaviour to change.”
Girvan wonders why Americans are numb to the staggering death toll from the COVID virus in the US. Some 544,000 deaths up to now.
“Increasingly it seems that we simply do not care about the other person, that other family, someone else’s child.
“The self is everything.
“It’s freedom and liberty, whims and desires.
“Community doesn’t extend beyond one’s front door. Everything else is someone else’s concern.”
Will America finally respond to the causes of unnecessary gun deaths?
It seems unlikely, based on past history of the US gun debate.
What can we learn from the American experience?
Society is simply more than just the individual.
Society is composed of many communities, some old, some new.
It is through communities working, arguing and compromising, before finally coming together in common cause that we knit the fabric of a nation.

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