“For the first time in a very long time, if ever… I don’t feel safe as an American or a human being…It’s a weird and hollow feeling” I’ve tried to put words together today about how I felt, and in the way he always seems to, my friend Jim summed up the general mood of my evening… weird and hollow.
Every time I talked to adults today, it was about the latest mass shooting in my country. We know the guns used, the name/age/hometown/family members/ preferred toilet paper brand of the shooter (ok, maybe not the last one). We as a society live in the 24 hour news cycle and it’s only further fueled by the readily available first-hand accounts- both a blessing and a curse.
Our world is heavy. It’s been heavy for a long time, and I feel like it’s going to continue to be heavy for quite a while more. It is up to us as individuals and as a hivemind to lift it up, and right now it feels like an insurmountable task. Time is not enough, love is not enough, kindness is not enough, and with all due respect, our thoughts are prayers have been proven insufficient. It’s time to get real about connection- to truly listen to those who disagree with us, get out of our respective bubbles and learn about the human who could quite possibly despise us. This requires intention. No more passive hashtags. I’m exhausted by typing “I’m thinking of you” or “sending hugs your way” Yeah, those are true but they are also so fucking passive, I can’t pretend like the letters strung together hold any weight anymore.
Of course I’d rather be laughing. Of course I’d rather be playing around. Of course I want to numb out and not worry about this, but that is neither healthy nor possible. This problem is endlessly complex and has too many angles to approach it head on. Instead, I’m choosing to approach other people with compassion and truth. I owe it to the victims in Las Vegas, in Orlando, in Aurora, in San Bernardino, Roseburg, Charleston, Washington DC, Newtown, Seal Beach, Ft. Hood, Binghampton, Omaha, Blacksburg, Santee, Wakefield, Columbine, San Francisco, Killeen, and countless other cities touched by mass shooting incidents (and that’s only a few since I turned two years old, y’all). Frankly, so do you.
This is the time to be having these conversations. This is the time to talk politics, to stop allowing this to be as easy as it seems to be. It hurts, use that pain as fuel to finally get this right. Can we afford the gamble that the next town won’t be ours? Do you even want to risk it?