It’s Hard To Feel Sorry For A Neighbour Who Keeps Setting His Own House On Fire

The eyes of American lawmakers gazed miserably out from our screens yesterday as television networks provided wall-to-wall news coverage of another mass shooting. Fifty-nine dead and 527 injured this time, the largest body count ever.

The response to the carnage?

“Heroism,” according to news hosts from Anderson Cooper to Rachel Maddow. “It is tragedies like these that bring out the best of America.”

The best of America.

Sweet Mary, mother of Jesus on the cross, save me from this cacophony of irony.

Is their no end to the blindness of a country that has sold 300 million guns to its own citizens and then reacts with shock when one of those good people decides to use the weapons to great effect?

What in heaven’s name is wrong down there?

Seemingly oblivious to the natural law of cause and effect, the equation of Guns + Bullets + Human Beings = Dead People doesn’t seem to compute.

And instead of demanding immediate action on substantive gun control, our American heroes give blood and donate money.

Donations for what exactly? Funeral costs? Medical expenses?

Heroic donations for medical care in a country which sees that care as a privilege while viewing gun ownership as a right? Give me a freaking break, buddy.

There are more questions than answers about the alarming trajectory of our neighbour with whom we share an 8,891-kilometre border.

Because in addition to the blindness of America to the relationship between guns and death, there is also, even more alarmingly, an obliviousness (or at best, a sputtering objection) about their unmistakeable march towards authoritarianism.

Ideas of law and order coupled with the notion of “us versus them,” a notion that grounds the 2nd Amendment, are components of the authoritarian framework.  “Us versus them” language and policy emanates from the White House on a daily basis.

In addition, “research in political psychology has found that measures of authoritarianism are correlated with racial and ethnic prejudice and heightened nationalism,” according to the Washington Post, quoting a study of authoritarianism and party affiliation that’s well worth the read if you have a minute.

Add that to the danger of the nuclear arsenal the rest of the non-Soviet world accepted the U.S. could build up during the Cold War. That arsenal is now moving from its resting place of “deterrent” to “military option.”

With its increasingly pugilistic attitude on everything from pro athletes to hurricane victims to non-whites to non-Christians, America is casting an increasingly threatening shadow.

Far from feeling sorry for America, we are hostages to it. Hostages to its bluster, its lying, its ignorance, its insensitivity and its racist, nationalistic intimidation.

Our neighbour is, by far, the biggest bully on the block.

And, like living next to a person who continues to set his own house on fire, it’s only a matter of time before your house gets burned down too.


Gail Picco is an award-winning charity strategist widely recognized as one of Canada’s foremost experts on how to carve a path through the increasingly complex dynamics of the charitable sector. Civil Sector Press published her latest book, Cap in Hand: How Charities are Failing the People of Canada and the World, in 2017.

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  1. great job Gail.

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