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Domestic tensions on the brink

Editorial | The rise of violent outbursts in DC are a cry for change

A man died on Oct. 4 after setting himself on fire in the center of National Mall in Washington, D.C. This man was driven to a point of such desperation that he publicly killed himself in one of the most horrific ways possible, yet officials have said they have no idea why he would do so.

Through a series of so-called “isolated” events, it seems as though a pattern of violent public outbursts of expression and exasperation is emerging as a result of increasing political turmoil. However, higher-ups in our country are so out-of-touch with the American people that they not only cause these outbursts, they just as easily dismiss them. We have become so disconnected from our government that the country has effectively been brought to the brink.

The U.S. Capitol is still reeling from a mass shooting on Sept. 16, when a man opened fire in the Washington Navy Yard, killing 12 people and injuring three. The incident was dismissed as a deranged Navy reservist’s loss of control, and conversations turned once again to gun control and caring for veterans with mental health problems.

Ten days later, on Sept. 27, a man dressed in a business suit in Houston, Texas, doused himself with gasoline in the middle of the street and was about to open his lighter before security stopped him. It has been gathered that his actions were a result of his inability to find a job. The incident barely made the news.

On Oct. 1, the government shut down as a result of a petty partisan showdown by the Republican Party, denying paychecks and services to millions of federal workers and American people that rely on the government to survive.

Then, on Oct. 3, a mother of a one-year-old child found herself in a police chase as she drove right into the security fence of the White House and was gunned down by police. It is no coincidence that she went straight for the center of our government, despite it being the most highly secured area of our country. It is also a testament to the condition of our society that police officers are so on edge that they were quick to gun down and kill an unarmed woman, and the media is so anxious and anticipatory that it immediately started reporting on the incident as though there was a live shooter in our nation’s capitol.

Yet again, the incident was said to be an “isolated event.”

Clearly, there is something very wrong here. The emergence of self-immolation is reflective of a deep political frustration that has been repressed, fermented and built up beneath the surface. The shutdown has been hitting Americans where it hurts, and it’s happening all for the sake of politics rather than in the interest of the people. When those issues begin to boil over and manifest in the form of violence, authorities attempt to sweep them under the carpet. Our conversation on the self-immolation in D.C. has been more accusatory than contemplative, and instead of talking about the issues that prompt these incidents, we’re ignoring them when what we really need to do is remedy them.

The waters aren’t steady in our country right now, and they have been that way before the shutdown even began. The recent standoff in the legislature only accentuates the misguidedness of our government and the societal tensions that have risen as a result. The only question is: How much will finally be enough?

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