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“Anyone who thinks they’re special is an idiot.” Well said, I thought.

In this day of swiping and scrolling and instant gratification, no one has time for your talent. We’ve come to a point where the only way to get the nation’s attention is to strap on an AK-47 and commit a mass atrocity. But even that is fleeting. Just a flash in the pan. We’ve become so complacent and apathetic that even the most heinous of crimes soon slips out of the national consciousness. We talk and pray and make plans, but nothing gets accomplished. And soon enough we move on.

Move on to what, though? The gears in Washington begin to slip and slide into reverse. They back-peddle, so as to not offend organizations like the NRA. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. They’ll keep up this pathetic charade as long as we let them, and John Q. Public seems to be in no mood to rock the boat. Not just yet, anyway.

So when is the last straw? When our consumerism is threatened? When you can’t go shopping without arming yourself to the teeth? No, probably not. We can still hunker down behind our blue light screens and spend away, letting the delivery drivers take the risks. Profit and political gain has been placed ahead of human life, and it is a completely unsustainable system.

So where do we go from here? What kind of nation do we want to be? Shall we slip farther down the tunnel of dysfunction where armed militias patrol certain sectors of our cities? Do we arm teachers and turn schools into fortresses? And if so, what shall we do with the very ideals this nation was founded upon? Red state or blue state, how do you want to live?

Paul Barenthin, Northwood, Iowa

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