Every fiber in my being has tried to sabotage my attempts at writing this post, but thoughts keep poking at my brain like a sliver in my finger that will not come out until I grab the tweezers and get to work. So, here I am getting to work.
Across social media platforms, work desks, waiting rooms and kitchen tables the same conversation is being held, most ending with the same platitude, “we’ve got to do something.” I haven’t yet identified my topic but I bet you’ve already figured it out.
Here’s the thing, folks. We all shake our heads in sadness and fear at the news of another senseless murder spree, we hug our kids a little tighter, commiserate with family and friends about the state of our country and then top off our emotional response with an incensed Facebook post stating that it’s time to do “something.” Thereafter follows the potential for a politically-charged debate about what the “real” problem is, all comments tinged with frustration at the lack of any “change”. Some relationships will be strained for a bit, friendships affected, everyone raw and hurt that this is even a conversation that has to happen. Time will go by and the sting of the moment will ease. So will our resolve to do “something” until we’re reminded that we’ve done nothing and the cycle starts over again. Rinse and repeat.
The problem? No one really knows what that “something” that needs to be done actually means. In desperation we cling to whatever form of logic we can muster. Gun reform! Ask most people having this conversation to define the current gun laws and they won’t be able to. Hell, I can’t. But it sure sounds like a fantastic idea! Mental Health reform! Yep! Any idea how your local government allocates budgeting for its mental health programs? I’d venture to guess that you probably don’t. Different politicians! You’re probably right. But have you actually looked into a potential candidate’s voting record or history of public program support?
Friends, I am coming from a place of mutual conviction. I haven’t actually done “something” either beyond praying, sharing an inspirational quote on Instagram or crafting a supportive comment on a Facebook post. Yet here I sit. Pissed off that the world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket and expecting “them” to do “something” while I armchair quarterback from behind the screen.
These are our kids that we are sending into this volatile future. The kids that we allow to fall victim to the faceless anonymity of social media. We sit and watch them fade into their phone screens, then share a disapproving glance with a likewise parent and throw out a complaint or two about “this generation”. We set them up on an Xbox and pretend we don’t hear the emotionally desensitizing thuds of their bullets in the background while we’re cooking dinner. They live their lives between 15 second snaps and group messages and look horrified at the mention of an actual phone call. These humans keep losing more and more of what makes them human, and we let them.
We acquiesce to the state of this new “normal” and complain about it so we can fool ourselves into believing our passionate discontent is actually doing “something.” And then we scratch our heads and wonder why as we watch the value of humanity leak from the hands of unhinged people.
You wish someone would do “something?” YOU do it.
If you feel like gun reform is the solution, educate yourself as to why the laws need to change and how you can go about being heard. If you feel like the solution lies in more mental health programming, do your research to find out what your community is lacking and get to a city hall meeting to make your case. If you feel there needs to be a politician shift, thoroughly vet potential candidates beyond their voting manual profiles and volunteer for a campaign.
We need to stop kidding ourselves. Incensed Facebook posts and angry grandstanding about things needing to change do absolutely nothing to affect change. The only purpose they do serve is to allow us to feel momentarily better about the fact that we’re not actually doing anything.
Again, mutual conviction here, folks. I’m as guilty as I’m sure many of you might be. But I intend to change my own conviction. I have my own opinions about possible solutions and plan on following through with some actions in support. I truly urge you to do the same.
In solidarity for a solution,
I’m stunned after reading this. You took all of my feelings and turned them into something that made sense, but far more eloquently than I ever could have done. I’m guilty of many of the things you wrote about. I appreciate the frankness.
Thank you Sharon! I wholeheartedly appreciate you taking the time to read my ramblings. And I’ve heard you speak to your classroom kiddos with more eloquence and deep-hearted passion than I could ever hope to muster up. <3
Marie Wilson says
It sometimes seems to me that this is a case of “real life” Hunger Games…we know someone’s kids are going to be sacrificed, and we are just relieved when it’s not ours. Many believe that this is just the cost of living in a free society…we sacrifice our kids to the “gun gods” and hope that what ever the number of the new tragedy is enough to satisfy him for awhile. But it’s not…my kids all graduated from Thurston High school in Oregon, one of the first and most media immersed school shootings of it’s time. Only 2 students were killed (the shooter killed his parents as well before he opened fire at the school) My kids were not students there at the time, but the legacy of being at the front of this epidemic still lives in our community. I can’t even talk to anyone about this any more because I believe that if nothing was done after Sandy Hook, nothing will really ever be done. I just can’t even open my mouth about it without crying and becoming ineffective at trying to support my opinions on the obvious need for change.
I completely understand that feeling Marie. I actually also went to Thurston and knew the Kinkel family. Although I wasn’t attending the school at the time, I still feel a very personal involvement to the situation and to the community. My hope is that the current generation, growing up among and amidst this culture, will bring the change we so desperately need. Thank you for your comment. <3