Morality and Law Making: Is There a Difference?

On August 4th, lazily lounging across my couch flipping through the channels of my television, I stopped on a news channel with the headline “13 hours of bloodshed” plastered across the bottom of the screen. I had yet to hear about the mass shootings of the day prior, but was immediately filled in by the solemn news anchor on-screen rehashing the events of the two tragedies less than 24 hours before. As I listened, my heart began to sink. After a mass shooting, especially after two in the same day, it is natural to feel a sense of remorse, sorrow, and loss, even if you had no immediate connection to the tragic event itself. It’s heartbreaking to hear about the untimely deaths of others at the hands of some radical extremist, however, in my own personal experiences, I have never been one to act on those feelings of sadness. Of course the circumstances upset me, of course they anger me, but what could I do? I'm only one person in both a culture and political structure that allows for mass shootings to happen regularly, along with millions of others. So regularly that two happened in the same day in completely different states. 

As I continued to watch the interview, the news anchor started to discuss blame. Who was to blame for these events? He repeatedly stated that the reason all of these mass shootings were happening were because of the White House and President Donald Trump. The entire segment was based around finger-pointing in this situation. But aren't we all to blame? I know that I am, if not directly, then most definitely indirectly. I have all of these emotions and opinions on the highly controversial subject, and yet what have I done to express them or to enact even the smallest change? Nothing. By doing nothing, I am just as much to blame. In that regards, all parties, political and nonpolitical, are just as much to blame for these reoccurring tragedies. 

Eventually, the anchor began to interview Cory Booker, a senator from New Jersey, who, continuing with the latest topic of the interview, began to place blame other politicians. However, he quickly changed directions and began to discuss the morality of the situation. One thing that stuck with me, and ultimately drove me to write this article, was how he created a divide between the political climate and the morality of the tragedies. Morally speaking, we should value human life and that should be what drives us as humans to elicit a change. 

Furthermore, if human beings are dying, we have a moral obligation to want to, and should, protect them. Sitting back or even laying across a couch while others are being murdered is not morally acceptable. However, this was not what the interviewer was interested in. He said something along the lines of “yeah yeah morality is great and all, but what will actually get through the White House?” To which Senator Booker calmly replied, “There’s morality and then there’s what can get through the senate.” 

He said it as if it was the most evident thing in the entire world, as if that statement alone wouldn't completely change my opinion of the American legal and justice systems. I was angered by this. There should be no divide or distinctions of what is morally right and what can be passed by legislative bodies. They ought to be synonymous. The United States prizes itself on its morals and rights. Liberty, Justice, Freedom. 

If these are elevated ideologies by our government, why aren't Human Decency and Protection for All Citizens? What gives the ones that are prized more power over those that are not? The times have changed. I have changed. It is time to start making a change.