My Relationship With Mass Shootings Has Evolved With Each Tragedy, But It Has To End Soon

My Relationship With Mass Shootings Has Evolved With Each Tragedy, But It Has To End Soon

We need to end our generation’s toxic relationship with mass shootings.
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When it happened at Virginia Tech, we watched as the night sky was lit by the vigil candles. We saw mothers crying and young people, who I had thought to be so mature, devastated by the loss of their friends and classmates.

When it happened at Sandy Hook, we watched as the children filed out of the school and the young faces flashed across the screen - as if the two seconds could make up for the years they lost because someone ended their lives too soon.

When it happened in San Bernardino, we watched as the police chased the shooters. I remember thinking, “Who has a problem with Christmas parties?”

Then Orlando happened. I saw the headline and assumed it was about the singer that had been shot the week before in Orlando and ignored it. I was wrong. This scared me more than anything before, not because I thought someone was going to come after me, but because I had become so accustomed to this cycle - people dying, constituents calling for action from their legislatures, nothing happening, victims are forgotten, and then it repeats - that I had started to ignore it and I had overlooked the loss of 50 lives. 50 people taken, most not much older than I.

I was so used to hearing about this subject and so tired of the cycle that I hadn’t asked any questions and looked the other way.

Every time a shooting happens, I hear someone say, “Don’t worry that won’t happen here.”

Well, how much of “here” is left? I’m sure someone said that about a high school in Parkland and a nightclub in Orlando and probably an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania, but it did happen there. It happened there and in so many other places that there are lists titled “Major Mass Shootings in the United States,” because there have been so many that we need to differentiate between those that took enough lives to be classified as “major” and “minor.”

I don’t want to know how many more lives are going to be lost at the hands of gun violence before someone decides to do something. I keep hearing this argument that as Americans we are granted the right to bear arms as part of the 2nd Amendment in the US Constitution, but in the Preamble to this same document, we all, whether we want it or not, are granted the right to life.

I am not trying to start an argument on gun control, but I am attempting to get people to think about what would happen if we start thinking about the greater good rather than the individual’s needs. The United States was founded with three major goals: to ensure domestic tranquility (have peace and calmness within the boundaries of the US), provide for the common welfare (protect US citizens), and promote the general welfare (attend to the well-being of our people.) We need to stop sitting back and letting things happen. We need to ignore our wants and support the needs of the common welfare. The need to stop seeing children die because they braved walking into school. We need to end our generation’s toxic relationship with mass shootings before there aren't any of us left to say something.
Cover Image Credit: March for Our Lives

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An Open Letter To Democrats From A Millennial Republican

Why being a Republican doesn't mean I'm inhuman.
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Dear Democrats,

I have a few things to say to you — all of you.

You probably don't know me. But you think you do. Because I am a Republican.

Gasp. Shock. Horror. The usual. I know it all. I hear it every time I come out of the conservative closet here at my liberal arts university.

SEE ALSO: What I Mean When I Say I'm A Young Republican

“You're a Republican?" people ask, saying the word in the same tone that Draco Malfoy says “Mudblood."

I know that not all Democrats feel about Republicans this way. Honestly, I can't even say for certain that most of them do. But in my experience, saying you're a Republican on a liberal college campus has the same effect as telling someone you're a child molester.

You see, in this day and age, with leaders of the Republican Party standing up and spouting unfortunately ridiculous phrases like “build a wall," and standing next to Kim Davis in Kentucky after her release, we Republicans are given an extreme stereotype. If you're a Republican, you're a bigot. You don't believe in marriage equality. You don't believe in racial equality. You don't believe in a woman's right to choose. You're extremely religious and want to impose it on everyone else.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are rooted in truth. There are some people out there who really do think these things and feel this way. And it makes me mad. The far right is so far right that they make the rest of us look bad. They make sure we aren't heard. Plenty of us are fed up with their theatrics and extremism.

For those of us brave enough to wear the title “Republican" in this day and age, as millennials, it's different. Many of us don't agree with these brash ideas. I'd even go as far as to say that most of us don't feel this way.

For me personally, being a Republican doesn't even mean that I automatically vote red.

When people ask me to describe my political views, I usually put it pretty simply. “Conservative, but with liberal social views."

“Oh," they say, “so you're a libertarian."

“Sure," I say. But that's the thing. I'm not really a libertarian.

Here's what I believe:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in feminism. I believe in racial equality. I don't want to defund Planned Parenthood. I believe in birth control. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I believe in welfare. I believe more funds should be allocated to the public school system.

Then what's the problem? Obviously, I'm a Democrat then, right?

Wrong. Because I have other beliefs too.

Yes, I believe in the right to choose — but I'd always hope that unless a pregnancy would result in the bodily harm of the woman, that she would choose life. I believe in welfare, but I also believe that our current system is broken — there are people who don't need it receiving it, and others who need it that cannot access it.

I believe in capitalism. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, because I believe we have a people crisis on our hands, not a gun crisis. Contrary to popular opinion, I do believe in science. I don't believe in charter schools. I believe in privatizing as many things as possible. I don't believe in Obamacare.

Obviously, there are other topics on the table. But, generally speaking, these are the types of things we millennial Republicans get flack for. And while it is OK to disagree on political beliefs, and even healthy, it is NOT OK to make snap judgments about me as a person. Identifying as a Republican does not mean I am the same as Donald Trump.

Just because I am a Republican, does not mean you know everything about me. That does not give you the right to make assumptions about who I am as a person. It is not OK for you to group me with my stereotype or condemn me for what I feel and believe. And for a party that prides itself on being so open-minded, it shocks me that many of you would be so judgmental.

So I ask you to please, please, please reexamine how you view Republicans. Chances are, you're missing some extremely important details. If you only hang out with people who belong to your own party, chances are you're missing out on great people. Because, despite what everyone believes, we are not our stereotype.

Sincerely,

A millennial Republican

Cover Image Credit: NEWSWORK.ORG

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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