Thursday, December 3, 2015

Three hundred fifty-five...

You know the phrase, "I literally can't right now."?

It's usually utilized when your level of frustration has reached an all-time high.

When I use this specific phrase, I have a friend (we'll refer to her as E) who likes to yell "Yes you can! We're having a fine time!".  #optimism

I'm sorry, E.... But I, in all possible ways, CAN'T right now.

I'm sure you have all heard about the recent shooting in San Bernardino, California today (December 2nd).  According to, 14 people have been killed and 17 injured.

When I first found out, I sat in shock and prayed for the victims.  I prayed that the appropriate people who were in the position to make a change would step up; I prayed the families of the victims would find peace in some way; and I prayed it would never happen again.  Isn't it sad that I basically have a plan to follow every time a tragedy like this occurs?

When the media decides I should know about a mass shooting, I sit in horror as the death count becomes public and the ghastly motives of the shooter becomes known.  For a few minutes I talk with my peers about how awful our world is becoming, frowning at my phone as it buzzes with notifications.  I then spend five minutes designing a beautiful but strong tribute post on my Facebook page.

Every. Single. Time.

And what has changed since the last time we were in this situation?

Nothing.  Diddly-squat.  Zero.  None.  Zilch.

Did you know that December 2nd is the 336th day of the year and we've had 355 mass shootings?  There were two today, in case you didn't know (the other in Savannah, Georgia).  I don't care who you are or what your beliefs are: we have a serious problem.

It's time we get over ourselves and come to terms with the decisions we have made (or lack there of). We all have the same goal: to stop or at least decrease the number of mass shootings.

Can we all agree on that?

Individually, none of us know what the solution could be.  We obviously haven't had any success yet.  Maybe we need stricter gun control laws?  Maybe we need better mental health treatment plans?  Better background checks?

I'm not here to pretend I know exactly what we need to do.  I have no idea what the answer is, but I do know we're not even trying anymore.

And yes... you're probably part of the problem too (as am I).

I know I'm not the only one who spends five minutes to write a post that both expresses my grief for the tragedy, while simultaneously pushing for something to change.

That's great; but what do we do after the post?  How long do we think about the incident?  Do we do our part in making sure it doesn't happen again?  Are we really making a change by getting fifteen likes on the post?

I'll be honest with myself: No.  I have done nothing to follow through with my own posts and "calls-for-action", and I can bet you haven't either.

I'm tired of writing and reading beautifully-written and passionate posts that don't lead to action.  I've always stood by the belief that words can carry a huge impact; but my empty Facebook posts and blog posts have obviously done nothing to stop what's going on.  I might not have carried the weapons that contributed to the statistic where one American is killed by a gun every 16 minutes, but I'm definitely part of the problem.

In the five minutes it takes for us to write a Facebook post expressing our disbelief and anger, we could write a letter to one of our state representatives pleading for action or give money to an organization working to stop gun violence (e.g. here, here, here, here and here).

We as a society need to stop complaining about issues where we don't put actions to words.  I'm sick of going to my favorite news site and seeing photos of survivors walking out of a building with their hands behind their heads.  I'm sick of being genuinely scared to go to work at night where I have to be alone.  I'm sick of having a professor ask on syllabus day, "Now what is our plan in case of a shooting or threat on campus."  I'm sick of the circumstance, and I'm sick of being part of the problem.

Step up, America.  Quit pretending everyone else is the problem and your idea is the 'right one'.  Stop arguing and start compromising, because whatever we're doing right now is obviously not working. Writing strong-worded Facebook posts to our peers is not working so start putting some action behind them: even if it's just starting the conversation.  When we're not actively searching for ways to be part of this solution: we might as well be holding the gun.

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