"It has been said too many times before," Stephen Colbert said at the start of his show Monday night, speaking to the deadliest mass shooting in America, which left 49 dead and injured dozens more at a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning.
There have been at least 1,000 mass shootings in the United States since a gunman killed 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012: Isla Vista, California; Roseburg, Oregon; Charleston, South Carolina; San Bernardino, California; and now Orlando, Florida, to name a few that made big headlines.
"You have a pretty good idea of what most people are going to say; you know what the president, whoever it is, will probably say; you know what both sides of the political aisle will say; you know what gun manufacturers will say," Colbert said.
It’s the "national script": the same dialogue people turn to time and time again after tragedy strikes. But the danger in the script, he says, is accepting it as status quo:
By accepting the script, we tacitly accept that the script will end the same way every time with nothing changing. It’s easy, it's almost tempting, to be paralyzed by such a monstrous hateful act, to despair, to say 'well this is this is the way the world is now.'
I don't know what to do.
But I do know that despair is a victory for hate. Hate wants us to be too weak to change anything.
Love in response to hate. Love does not despair. Love makes us strong. Love gives us the courage to act. Love gives us hope that change is possible. Love allows us to change the script.
As Vox’s Zack Beauchamp explained, the United States has a long history of mourning without acting after mass shootings. Time and time again, policy changes to curb the proliferation of such violence have been proposed — a gun background check bill, a proposal to give the CDC a budget to research gun violence, another background check bill, and multiple attempts at gun control reforms — and failed or fizzled out, Beauchamp writes:
The National Rifle Association, and its allies in Congress, have taken a hard-line position on gun restrictions. They believe that even minor laws designed to make it harder to get firearms, or even to figure out what works to stop gun violence, are unacceptable infringements on individual freedom. They have enough muscle in Congress to make action on gun control impossible.
The rest of us have to live with the consequences.