Webster’s dictionary defines “wearying” as “tiresome.” This weekend was wearying. Because Jon had a work-related event on Friday night, we arrived on Thursday evening to set up for the weekend and to stay overnight. That way, we could go back to the house on Friday morning, attend the after-work event, and return to camp late. Our plans were quickly disrupted by a four-hour power outage on Thursday that made for a sweaty, sleepless night.
We had already finished our dinner of Asian grilled chicken skewers over rice pilaf with green beans, and had settled in to watch “Yellowstone” when the outage occurred. We first checked our power pole, and then realized the outage affected our entire loop. A walk to the next loop revealed that the outage had in fact affected the entire park. Some campers who had driven to the main gate reported that construction crews severed a power line, and that the utility company was working to restore power as quickly as possible. So we trudged back to Cloud 9, resigning ourselves to a hot, humid night without creature comforts. How could we possibly “camp” during a hot August night without air-conditioning!
When the power was eventually restored at 2 a.m., everything popped on at once—the lights, the TV, the air-conditioner—startling us awake. After closing the windows and turning off the lights and TV, we found ourselves wide-eyed and wet with sweat. Not the way we wanted to kick off our weekend.
The Friday event was fun, and, as we expected, we arrived back at Cloud 9 after 10 p.m. But we were able to watch some TV and enjoy a glass of port before finally crashing for the night.
On Saturday morning, as we were walking our dogs, some park rangers invited us to a camp breakfast at the camp store. We arrived at the store’s ample covered porch amid a gentle rain, where we enjoyed breakfast tacos with other campers, including a couple of Vietnam War vets who regaled us with stories of their time in service. After returning to Cloud 9, Jon did some editing while Cliff surfed the internet. Then, in the early afternoon, we took a nap.
Upon awaking, we heard about a mass shooting in El Paso that claimed the lives of 20 people. Like many others, we watched in shock and sadness as the grim news emerged. We acknowledged first our outrage and then our helplessness. And, like so many others who’ve become desensitized to such horrible violence, we then carried on with our weekend. We poured cocktails and nibbled hors d’oeuvres before firing up the grill for our Saturday Date Night. We ended the evening by watching “Guys and Dolls,” the 1955 movie of the 1950 Broadway musical starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons and Frank Sinatra.
Although we went to bed with the show’s peppy tunes playing in our heads, we awakened to news alerts of yet another mass shooting, this time at a club in Dayton. The gunman killed nine people and injured another 26 before being killed by police just one minute after he started shooting.
As we said, it was a wearying weekend.
We’ve grown weary of gun violence in America. We can’t seem to escape it—certainly not by averting our attention. Although we have only 5 percent of the world’s population, we own more than half of the world’s guns. America also holds the record for the most gun deaths—around 90 a day and about 33,000 per year. Might there be a connection between gun violence in America and the sheer amount of available weapons here?
We were surprised to learn that mass shootings make up less than 1 percent of firearm-related deaths. The leading cause is suicide (60 percent), followed by homicide (38 percent), and then accidents (1 percent). Would a determined individual find another way to commit suicide or homicide or mass murder if guns weren’t so readily available? Perhaps. But it’s a lot harder to kill nine people in less than one minute using a knife.
We don’t have any answers or insights. We just know that we’re weary. As people of a biblical faith tradition, we’ve long embraced Isaiah’s prophecy that the ideal world is one in which we beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks—a peaceful world where instruments of death are transformed into tools of life and no one learns war anymore.
A world without guns may not be a world without violence. But at least it would be a world without gun violence. At least it would be a start.