It’s been a little over a week since the Las Vegas Massacre and it was the first time that I can remember that I literally was at a loss for words. Which is unusual because I’m a pretty outspoken person and have rarely made a point of keeping my political and socioeconomically commentary to myself. I’ve been criticized ferociously by friends and adversaries alike for my open dialogue because it’s exhausting to listen to.
Yes, yes it is. They aren’t wrong.
As exhausting as it is to listen to, it’s equally exhausting to talk about, but sometimes it’s the emotionally trying topics that need to be discussed.
But that morning the Las Vegas shooting occurred, as I turned on the morning news only to be met with yet another mass shooting spree, I felt my heart burn with sorrow, followed by a numbness that washed over me. I turned off the news and sat in silence drinking my coffee. I didn’t check Facebook all day because I knew what obtuse, retroactive, and mind-numbingly predictable comments would infiltrate my newsfeed. From the gag-worthy “thoughts and prayers” banter to the menacingly pointed, “this never would have happened if I were there with my gun” dialogue, I knew I would be thrown onto the hamster wheel of emotional chaos followed by the petty Republican vs. Democratic blame game.
See, the problem isn’t that we’re pro or anti guns nor is it that we’re Republicans or Democrats or Libertarian or Socialists or whatever word we choose to shackle and chain our multifaceted, dimensional personas into. It doesn’t matter that we’re majorities or minorities or that we’re poor or wealthy.
The problem is we’ve all become so fucking predictable in our interaction with each other that it’s no longer become an interaction. There is no dialogue anymore because dialogue and conversation require an equal participation of listening. There is no thought process, no real desire to have an intelligible conversation with each other anymore. There is no real desire for change or reform or to keep ourselves and our families safe because it’s far more important to us that we’re right.
Not that we’re loving or compassionate humans. Not that we’re ever evolving intellectuals that seek emotional and mental stimulation and challenge. No, it is far more important to us that we’re right. That we can say “told you so.” So long as our voices are heard in the meaningless landscape we call social media; so long as we feel like our opinions matter when we can put up that meme and say “there, I made my point,” shit will never, ever change.
Newsflash: your view is no more poignant or right than anyone else’s and it sure as hell isn’t going to make a difference when you yell into the faceless void of the commentary on an opinion board of the Fox news section.
And to be clear, I’m just as bad as the rest of you. Or at least I was up until last Friday when it became blatantly clear how little any of my comments, opinions, memes, or blogs made one measurable ounce of a difference. People keep dying. Schools, concerts, subways, small towns in places we’ve never heard of… they all just keep getting shot up, blown up, and beat up, and our collective response isn’t to come up with a real solution but to continue this incessant cesspool of vitriolic commentary that lifts the veil on the true nature of humans –the need to be right, to say I told you so, to shift the conversation in a way that manipulates facts to perpetuate whatever side of the “gun right” law you’re on.
The one good thing that came out of this entire incident is that it doesn’t fit the narrative pedaled by either side. Gun advocates can’t say they would have been able to protect themselves and gun condemners can’t say anything about safety laws (as recent reports suggest the shooter had no history of violence or mental problems and he obtained his weapons legally.) The reason this is so poetically perfect is that it changes the conversation, throws it on its head.
Or at least it should have changed it. If Columbine and Sandy Hook and the Orlando Nightclub and San Bernardino didn’t change the conversation, this should have been the one that did. Nobody won the gun debate. Nobody won anything. 59 people died and neither side is willing to say uncle and just admit, so far, there isn’t a good solution. We need to go back to a time when we all could find relatable qualities in each other; when it was more important that we keep each other safe than to point the finger of righteousness. Until we get back to that spot, this shit is just going to keep happening. Over and over and over.
How about instead of saying “thoughts and prayers” for people that have already died, we use those thoughts to come up with ways to keep this from happening? How about instead of pointing fingers at each other, we start pointing the fingers as congressman who are greedily taking money from lobbyists to keep laws from making it easier to get guns than to get a car? How about we start deciding what things are more important to us and what kind of society we want to live in before it becomes nonexistent?
I’m saying uncle, here and now. I’m crying foul on myself for contributing to the hate and I’m making a call for everyone to do the same because one of us reading this will be next. At some point, one of us will be directly affected by another massacre and thoughts and prayers aren’t going to mean anything when that happens.