As the adage goes, “History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.” Sometimes one wishes for history neither to repeat itself nor rhyme. Sometimes one wishes for history to unfold in free verse, to break out of its cynical cycles and repetitions.
The particular history I refer to here is the record of radical inaction even after the most horrifying massacres of children in this country. The storyline is familiar. Elementary students are gunned down at Sandy Hook in 2012; hope swells for legislative action on guns; inaction prevails. High school students are gunned down in Parkland, Florida, in 2018; hope arises anew; but inaction seemingly prevails again. There are countless other examples of mass shootings that spur talk and debate, but little action.
And now, in the wake of the devastating shooting in Uvalde, given the repeated rhyming disappointments of the past decade, there is one question that looms: Is this time different?