Major events happening in the world affect us all. We’ll all remember them, we’ll hear about them on the news, and they’ll become a topic of conversation around the table. We’ll have different opinions, argue about intention or motive — or just simply remain numb and be quiet because no one has the words.
My parents always told me, “I’ll never forget where I was when I heard about Princess Diana’s car accident,” or “I remember exactly what I was doing when I heard John Lennon was shot.” “I’ll never forget the image of Jackie Kennedy in that car covered in blood.”
When I talk about major events in the world to my kids, I imagine it will be something like, “I was walking to my 11 a.m. lecture when I heard someone opened fire on a elementary school,” or “I woke up to a bunch of texts from my friends that there was a shooting at a night club in Orlando.” “I’ll never forget the images of people covered in blood and without limbs at the Boston Marathon.”
“I’ll always remember that Monday morning when I heard people attending a country music festival the night before suddenly had to fight for their lives.”
It’s not just a single act that has caused this pain; it’s several acts of violence and hatred that have disrupted this world. It’s these acts that have changed the way we interact, joke, love, work, and even just how we’re present.
We sigh a little extra relief when we see metal detectors at a concert or how a few additional police officers standing amongst a crowd suddenly make us feel safer. We know they’re taking measures to prevent the unthinkable from happening. And yet, it keeps happening.
There was probably security at the concert in Las Vegas — just not on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. There were police officers at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, but it was just a backpack to the naked eye. I bet there was a bouncer at the door at the nightclub in Orlando, but he still got in. Why would we need security at an elementary school? They’re all under the age of 12 — their lives are so innocent and they are there to learn and eat cookies. Yet somehow, someone took that little piece of innocence from us forever.
This. Keeps. Happening. It’s happened so often in my adolescent and adult life that I am numb. My responses now are simply, “That’s horrific, totally unbelievable.”
I’ve become desensitized. I’m no longer brought to a place of shock and despair like I was the moment I saw those planes fly into the towers. That emotion has not been duplicated. It has never been the emotion I feel when I hear someone opened fire on innocent people going about their daily lives with no penance to pay to the person pulling the trigger. THAT is a problem. THAT is what needs to be fixed. These things SHOULD shock us. It should destroy any ounce of innocence we have left to believe someone would be capable of such an act.
Sixteen years ago, 9/11 happened. It damaged us and it took a lot of lives. It tore apart families and left children without parents. It made a permanent change to the New York City skyline and gave a simple row of numbers — a single date — more meaning that any date I can remember. But we rebuilt. We increased security, sealed cockpits, got better metal detectors and built a bigger tower. We honored the fallen and those who were lost forever and it hasn’t happened since. We took action and made a change.
That needs to happen now. Something has to be done. We shouldn’t have to continue waking up to news about “another massacre mass shooting.” The word “another” should never be paired with “mass shooting.” We need to be better and we need to do better.
We need to address mental health issues and provide for the people who can’t provide for themselves. We need to teach our children to love one another and to accept their neighbors. We need to change the way we talk to each other and the labels we give groups of people. We need to stop blaming those different from us because it’s easier than facing the truth that our world is scary. We need to make it harder for people to get their hands on weapons that hurt people.
The right to bare arms does not grant you permission to take a life.
We need to educate ourselves on what we can do at home, in our communities, and with our friends in order to stop the hate. To stop the notion that this has become normal in our world. We need to do this before our children become desensitized like we are.
Talk about it; talk about how you can make a change and encourage others to take a step towards peace. Turn to your family, your friends, your faith, and ask the most important question: “Where do we go from here, and how can I do better?”
We go up. We move toward peace and we give hope to the people who’ve lost it all. We comfort those who’ve lost and we take action so no one else has to feel that way. We never forget the tragedy that has consumed our world, and we strive to make it a piece of history instead of a part for our future.
Start now. Get educated. Make a difference where you can. Be kind to people. Extend an olive branch when you find an enemy and reach a common ground. Exude peace and project love.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”