Philip and I have this terrible habit of reading the comments on things. We live in a very conservative state and are not very conservative, so sometimes we’ll go on the local news’ Facebook page and read comments on stories to see how crazy people are. Last night we were doing that on a story about the San Bernardino shootings. Every post was about how guns don’t kill people, everyone should have a gun, this is Obama’s fault, we need to rid the country of Muslims… You get the idea. In the middle of reading a comment, he interrupted me. “Stop! I can’t hear this anymore. I’m so sad. I’m so angry. This is so frustrating.” He expressed my sentiment perfectly. I’m so angry that innocent people are dying every day, while we’re all writing on Facebook about how the other person’s ideas to fix it are stupid. I’m so sad that I’m scared to go to my college classes some days because we might be the next school on that list of mass shootings. I’m heartbroken when I read that people think teachers should be carrying weapons, because my sweet, kind, gentle, peace-loving husband teaches elementary school, and while I know he would risk his life to save his kids, he has never, and could never, use a gun. I’m scared for our world. When I was growing up, shootings happened, but we always talked about smaller scale solutions. Getting rid of violent video games, changing the way the media reports it. Now it’s religion, it’s politics, it’s mental illness. It’s problems that are so big, I don’t think anyone knows how to fix them.
Sometimes I look at the sweet faces of my nephews and niece and think “How could someone who started out so innocent like this want to kill other humans?” But it’s not even the shooters that I’m shocked by. I know there are bad people in the world. There have always been bad people in the world. It’s those of us who are surrounding these bad people. We’re all hurting and we’re all confused. And I feel like so many of us are using that as an excuse to be hateful. Memes about all the Muslim-led acts of terror being countered with memes about all the white men-led acts of terror. Does it matter? PEOPLE are doing this. Not whites, not blacks, not Muslims. HUMANS. The thing we all are, the thing we all have in common. I think we can all agree that there is not one simple answer. So, why are we all waiting on the cure-all fix? It’s almost like we’re afraid to do anything to fix it because it might not fix it completely. When your heart is broken, there isn’t one thing you do that makes it all better. You wallow at home with ice cream for a while. And then you have a friend come over. And then you go out with a group. And then you meet new people. And eventually you realize your heart isn’t aching as much as it was. Why are we so afraid to try something? To take that first step to healing?
Last night Philip said “I’m scared about bringing a child into this world one day. How do we do that when the world is so scary?” And I said, “Well, we raise them to be kind to others, and to not judge. And to be loving. What else can we do?”
Maybe all we can do is just support each other, hold each other closer. Be that light that so many are missing in their lives. Maybe if we love each other hard enough, we can drown out all the hate around us. I hope so. I’m so sad. And I’m so scared. And I’m so tired of hearing the same arguments over and over again. It’s not about gun control, it’s about mental illness. It’s not about mental illness, it’s about race/religion/political affiliation. Maybe it’s about a lot of things.
I don’t really like being too open and transparent on social media. It’s that whole feeling vulnerable thing. I want the people who don’t know me that well to think I’ve got it all together. So, on the days when I don’t have it all together, I keep pretty quiet. But this is happening too often. I feel vulnerable every minute of my life because I have no idea what’s happening in the world out there right now. Will I be safe when I go to the hospital for clinical tonight? Will my husband be safe at his school today? Will something happen in Pennsylvania or New Jersey where so many of my people are? I think everyone, no matter which party you’re affiliated with, has had these thoughts lately. More specifically: Am I, and the people I love, safe?
Instead of planning how to counter someone's idea that you don't agree with, can we all just agree that something needs to be done and move forward from there?