On Working Through the Silence
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On Working Through the Silence

Our dedication to saving lives must last between tragedies.

On Working Through the Silence
National Review

59 dead. Hundreds injured. This is the news we all woke up to Monday morning, if we were lucky enough not to have been directly affected by the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Events like this are enough to make any decent person upset, though that grief and discomfort may manifest differently for each individual. But while I am lucky not to have known anyone who was in that crowd Sunday evening on October 1st, something happened that made this news especially eerie for me.

See, only two days before the tragic shooting in Las Vegas, I was walking home from work, and the thought popped in my head: “We haven’t had a highly publicized mass shooting in a little while. I wonder: when the next one comes, will we have done anything to follow through with our previous ‘commitment’ to preventing these tragedies from happening?”

So when I opened my laptop Monday morning only to read that one of the deadliest mass shootings recorded in American history had happened late the night before, it’s needless to say I was a little shaken.

Because, really, what have we done? And how scary is that, as an American having grown up in the aftermath of Columbine, I was able to suspect when we had gone unrealistically long without major gun violence?

There is a pattern that occurs every time a tragic event like this one takes place. We express our shock, grief, and outrage. Arguments ensue about gun control and the ways we can prevent further tragedies. We vow “never again” and say that we are committed to doing all we can to save future lives. And then, slowly, the focus and outrage dissipates, and we fall back into our daily routines as if nothing ever happened. Until, of course, the next mass shooting, at which point we go through the motions once again, with newfound urgency. In the meantime, nothing happens.

It is these moments in between – in the silence – that really count. As the headlines about Las Vegas fade (as they inevitably will), what will we as a nation do to ensure the next massacre never comes? How will we work through the silence; that precious stretch of time between tragedies? Consistent, quiet work isn’t glamorous, and it isn’t easy. But it’s absolutely vital.

Here’s the complicated truth: a person can only champion so many causes. I personally don’t think that gun control can be my main lane. Police brutality and systemic racism have often become my main point of consistent focus, because I live in cities where activism surrounding those issues is prevalent and accessible, and because it is something I have grown especially passionate about. As a theatre-maker, creating and interpreting complex female characters is also a lane of mine. But we need people for whom this is going to be their focus; who choose to dedicate consistent time and energy to fighting for gun control. And those of us who aren’t necessarily in that lane still need to do the basics – contact our representatives, engage in difficult conversations, and choose the media we consume and regurgitate wisely.

But you have to pick a lane. To passively display outrage at every injustice without consistently getting involved with any active resistance is simply unhelpful, and frankly, kind of insulting. If you are posting online about issues in the world but doing nothing to change them, then most likely your public musings are really centered around making you feel like you’re a good person. This is a smack in the face to the people who are doing the work to make a difference, or who are suffering from the reality of these injustices every day.

So it’s time for us to step up. It’s been time. We can’t just sit around and twiddle our thumbs waiting for the next terrorist to show up. We need to become comfortable with the benign and the boring; with work that isn’t sexy or widely visible. Unless we we work through the silence, the next tragedy will always be waiting around the corner.

And, in that sense, the noise is what will never really stop.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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