*Trigger warning: shootings
*Note: This article is not intended to be a political debate. I could've easily written an article about my opinions, but there's endless ones out there, and I don't like repeating something I feel like has already been said. This is more about society and what different things people are exposed to. You're entitled to your own opinions and beliefs, this is simply my own.
Another day, yet another mass shooting. I normally don't write/discuss politically-charged topics, as there's plenty of articles like that out there. But with so much senseless death and so much publicity around it, I felt compelled to say something.
I was born in June 1993, almost 25 years ago. An interesting, seemingly peaceful time of VHS, gross cartoons, and great music. Little did my younger self know, there was a dark, scary crime that was happening before it became popular that would become part of my culture.
In April 1999, at the age of five, the Columbine High School massacre occurred. I don't remember any of the news coverage, which was probably a good thing, me being too young and innocent to understand. But I do remember one day, my elementary school principal came to my classroom and told me and my classmates that if anybody ever entered the school with guns or knives, to "not be scared." The room was dead silent after that; of course that was scary. Even at age five, I knew guns and knives were scary, I grew up watching my dad shoot deer, I knew that guns were dangerous. There were a lot of bomb threats at my school shortly after that, none of which were real, but I was still young and unaware, maybe these were all just surprise half-days.
Flash forward to October 2006, I was 13 and in seventh grade. The Amish Schoolhouse shootings happened. I read the news stories and I was disturbed by it; who goes into a school, an Amish school especially, and shoots kids? My school ended up putting locks on the classroom doors after that, which gave me a sense of false security: I was glad there were locks, but it was the reason behind it that was unnerving.
Only seven months later, another shooting happened. Virginia Tech massacre. I was home and logged onto MSN, where the news was all over the page. What was Virginia Tech? I knew whatever happened must've been bad enough for it to be front page headlines. American Idol even acknowledge the tragedy that night, expressing their condolences. Me being obsessed with Idol, I knew this was important. I figured I could research the event, just to understand. I was stunned by the severity: 32 victims. Wikipedia had posted a picture of the assailant holding two guns pointed at the camera. That scared me. How could someone be that bold? That photo was enough to tell me that the gunman had no regard for human life.
My small school (a middle school and high school combined into one building), began having practice lockdowns; Virginia Tech's aftermath now taking full affect. One day, we had a real lockdown. We saw a cop car outside. Eerie silence. It's just a drill, it's just a drill. There was a sound of scuffling and running on the squeaky hallway floors. No bangs, no yelling, no gunshots, just a lot of running. The lockdown lasted about thirty minuets or so. It was later revealed that the police had a dog sniffing out drugs, but no threat of a shooting.
Over time, I've felt like I've become desensitized to shootings and violence; it's become normal for me to see this on the news. This is not okay. From movie theaters, to schools, concerts, nightclubs, malls, restaurants, churches, military bases, are we not safe anywhere? I can't help but wonder if I go to any of these places if there's a risk I'll be gunned down. I have nightmares of this all the time, and I pray it stays as a nightmare, not reality.
I love going to concerts, watching movies, dining at restaurants, and going to occasional clubs. I can't go to these establishments and not paranoid myself that something tragic is going to happen. We can't be afraid of living, even though there's an increased risk of violence happening. If I chose to live out the rest of my life in my home because I'm scared of being killed, then I wouldn't be living, that would be giving the shooters what they want: fear.
Change is what we need, from everyone, not just the government and legislators. Stop preaching hate, judge less. Reach out more, be kinder to those who need it most. Trust your instincts. If you feel like someone is in trouble, listen and try to help. Take care of yourself and others around you, you never know how life changing that can be for someone who needs it most.
In the words of the wise John Lennon, another casualty of a senseless act of violence: give peace a chance.
This blog post is dedicated to the angels of Parkland, Virginia Tech, West Nickel Mines School, and all the other angels who died in mass shootings. I pray change comes to this struggling world you left behind. <3
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