Is it just me, or has it been that for the past few years that the jolliest of seasons has been marked by sadness as well? This year marked the wrath of Typhoon Pablo, last year it was Typhoon Sendong, the year before we had the sinking of MV Catalyn B off Cavite on Christmas Eve. And who can forget the Philippines’ own Titanic, MV Doña Paz in December 1987? One can say that, thanks to global warming, the more powerful weather disturbances now happen at the latter time of the year. As for the maritime disasters, it’s due to the yearly exodus of people going home to the provinces for Christmas.
As usual we react with much hand-wringing and prayers. I don’t know if this incident will be the tipping point for the US to reconsider their Second Amendment, but frankly I’m not so interested in the debate over the right to bear arms as I am fascinated why these mass murders have been repeated alarmingly in the US. What is it about the American culture and psyche that breeds such shooters? The US isn’t the only country where one can easily purchase firearms. How come they have the highest number of deaths by firearms?
D asked me if something similar has happened here in the Philippines. I replied that there may have been Filipinos who have opened fire on others, but I don’t recall any specific incident when the targets were helpless and innocent civilians. Usually when a Filipino runs amok (I remember the Philippine media using that term), his assault is directed towards particular persons, with an occasional unlucky uninvolved who just happened to be in the line of fire because he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Compared to Americans, we Filipinos are more connected to the larger society. We have our extend families, our neighbors, and our village associations; fact is, our country is actually small enough so that we aren’t too far apart with our degrees of separation from other Filipinos.
But I’m sure things aren’t that simple. Then again, maybe I, like many others, are falling into the trap of thinking that such unspeakable atrocities must have several complex reasons behind them. Maybe the real horror is that the reasons are simpler.