This time the helicopters hovered over San Bernardino. And we watched another scene of slaughter unfold.
On Wednesday, it was at a service center for people with disabilities in California. Before that it was a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, a college campus in Oregon, a church in South Carolina, and movie theaters, schools and supermarkets across this country.
As the evening progressed, authorities would not rule out terrorism. But the San Bernardino police chief called it at least an act of domestic terrorism, and it was for the way it makes us feel. At least 14 people died. At least 17 were injured, some shot, some hurt fleeing the carnage.
One group that charts mass shootings says there have been at least 355 incidents this year. We can quibble about the number, but not about their cumulative impact. The randomness of these incidents is chilling. The efficiency of the killing is alarming. The fact that some people have decided that slaughtering their fellow humans is an appropriate way to address their grievances or make their point is appalling. The prospect that other disaffected people could be inspired by the same coverage that horrifies the rest of us is scary.
This happens in no other functioning democracy. What does this say about our country? What does it mean that we are shocked and we grieve and we condemn, and then as a culture we do absolutely nothing to change anything?
And how do we react as individuals? Do we change the way we live our lives? Do we simply shrug? Or do we go on, increasingly on edge?
Wednesday, the violence that seems to define the nation visited San Bernardino. The cries from those victims must become the cry from the soul of America. This . . . must . . . stop.