We didn't pull the trigger.
We didn't film the horrific events that dismantled and devastated an otherwise regular Wednesday morning.
We didn't post first-account videos, showing the death of two innocent lives with a disgusting pride and remarkable callousness.
We didn't write an apparent manifesto and send it to media stations.
But, then again we, as a culture, did.
This country has a fascination with guns and gun violence. From the sensationalism of firing weapons intended to kill others, to hoarding high-powered guns to create a false sense of power or protection, we have a love-affair with cold metal and the indifferent ammunition it can fire.
We devour hours upon hours of news coverage, listening to the difficult details of death and destruction with a horrific curiosity. We watch as friends cry and fiancés mourn and colleagues choke back an unimaginable pain, feeling connected to relative strangers in a way that is both kind and selfish.
We post and tweet and text and email and proclaim public professions of heartache and disbelief. We distance ourselves from the kind of people that are capable of such horrific violence, letting those around us know that we are nothing like them, while inching closer and closer to their state of mind with a morbid sense of interest.
We openly condemn the actions we're so quick to consume.
We say the killers' name more than we do the victims'.
We associate power and masculinity and control with guns and gun violence. We then scratch our heads, dumfounded, when people start to feel ineffectual or weak or slighted and use weapons to regain a sense of dominance.
We associate deficiency and instability with mental health treatment and the simple act of asking for help. We call people "crazy" or "broken" for seeking assistance or speaking with a therapist or undergoing hospitalization. We discourage individuals from knowing their limits and, when they're reached, asking for guidance and support.
We become infatuated with a "reason" or "motive" while simultaneously using words like "senseless" and "unbelievable", juxtaposing the very conversation we have created and are, apparently, destined to repeat.
We're addicted to the cycle of gun violence.
We're addicted to the shock and the sense of togetherness that swiftly follows.
We're addicted to the breaking news and the sense of overwhelming importance we feel when sharing that information with others.
We're addicted to the crying, grief-stricken friends and family members and the feelings of basic, raw humanity that warms our bellies as we watch strangers suffer.
We're addicted to the fear we feel, hugging our families and friends, remembering what is really important in life. We crave the moments that remind us the minuscule and mundane stressors of our day-to-day lives truly are insignificant.
We're addicted to what we cannot understand, so we absorb the crumbs meticulously left behind by killers and murderers, sensationalizing their actions and adding notoriety to their names.
We're addicted to violent death and while we condemn the actions of those who facilitate it, we silently itch for our next fix.
We supply the demand that is met by these dealers of violent finality.
We didn't pull the trigger, but we made it seem so glamorous to do so.
We didn't film the horrific events that dismantled and devastated an otherwise regular Wednesday morning, but we watched the video over and over and over again.
We didn't post first-account videos, showing the death of two innocent lives with a disgusting pride and remarkable callousness, but we re-tweeted them.
We didn't write an apparent manifesto and send it to media stations, but we will read it.
And we will keep looking for answers unless we decide to fix our gaze on the real problem:
It isn't as simple as guns or people. We cannot simply point fingers at pieces of metal or the people who fire them. We must look inward, at ourselves, for we are ultimately responsible for one another. We enter into a social contract, as members of this country, and are active, participating members of the moments this country faces.
Whether we want to admit it, or not.
So, until we can pull ourselves away from what we seem to so desperately need -- and realize that the loss of any life is not worth the sense of importance or humanity or togetherness or shock or fear or love or relativity that follow -- this will continue.
Until we can wean ourselves from the cycle we've created, take responsibility for our role in its plausible endlessness, and work towards a solution that makes mental health treatment heroic and powerful, and gun violence weak and ineffectual;
We will continue to be responsible for the deaths of countless more.
We will continue to be the reason why innocent people, like Alison Parker and Adam Ward, lose their lives.