The sorrow and the fear assaults our hearts leaving an indelible wound to our sense of security, our values, yes even our faith in human nature. The details of the horror are emblazoned in our conscientiousness. We hear authorities repeating that this horrific act is “unimaginable.” But we don’t have to imagine it. We keep seeing these attacks, we keep shuttering from the horror unable to wrap our minds around how human beings can reign down such violence on other human beings

And we are left bereft.

Insanity, fanaticism, ideological bigotry; these are reasons we look to in trying to make some sense of the why. Why has our country, our world become a shooting range with innocents the clay pigeons for those who hate? But, does knowing the why really make that much of a difference? Is it not true that no matter what the motivation the act is simply pure evil?

And we are appalled.

The inability to stop the evil haunts us. A “lone wolf or a known wolf” perpetrator, what does it matter when they are so very difficult to identify, and if identified as a possible threat, so difficult to monitor much less contain or control.

And we are left afraid.

How do we move forward? What can we do differently? What can we do better? Can there be something, some one thing that can stop this steamroller of death that threatens to not only keep killing innocents but killing our very way of life? Or is this becoming the new norm for America where one grabs a gun to violently express their views or displeasure or hatred towards others?

We learn more cold facts about the shooter, about the crime itself and we shiver from the information. We hear stories of the dead; stories from loved ones and friends which heat our blood at the possibilities lost, the potential unrealized by these innocent souls whose only mistake was to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

And we are angry.

On instinct there are those that lash out and those that emotionally shut down. There are those that try to rationalize and those that try, oh how they try, to reassure and calm.

And our hearts still break.

We hear the loud calls for revenge. We should “get ‘em.” We need to show “em!” But we are Americans, forged from the indomitable steel of our forefathers risking all for human freedoms. Upon the foundation of freedom and diversity this great nation was built. Personal freedom is its cornerstone. Do we sacrifice even more of our personal freedoms, more than have been sacrificed already in the hope of somehow stopping the horror?

Can we let the hate-mongers of the world alter the fabric of our country?

We fear our children’s future in the world we are leaving but what is to be done? Do we cast off our beliefs, our very nature and become as our enemies? Do we hate? Do we try to destroy?

So many questions. So much hurt and sorrow. So much uncertainty.

But, one question needs be answered; one question necessary to our future.

Who are we Americans?

Wendy J. Levenfeld is a published novelist, playwright and columnist. Comments can be addressed to

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