This past weekend, our nation was left reeling once again after a mass shooting killed 49 innocent people and injured many more at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL. Once again, the news is flooded with horrific images, smug selfies of the shooter, and the almost immediate heated debates about who's at fault. That's a big question, and a lot of people are certain they know the answer. They don't. I sure as hell wish somebody did. Here are the names of the latest 49 mass murder victims and a moving tribute from Anderson Cooper:
As incredibly sad and unthinkable these killings are, every day in the U.S., people murder each other. Our local metro Louisville has seen a dramatic increase in homicides this year. We see headlines like this one all the time over our morning coffee. Most often, it's one or two or a small group of people getting shot, but we know that eventually, another mass murder like what happened in Orlando will happen again. It's become #OurNewNormal. Yes, there's a hashtag for it. Murdering each other has become so commonplace, it's earned a Twitter tag. Isn't that lovely?
I'm upset and depressed for days after these things happen. But good God, it's NOTHING compared to what the victim's families, the wounded, the witnesses and first-responders are going through. If I never got online or turned on the TV, I could avoid hearing about it, but that's kind of difficult. Sometimes I wish I could live in a little bubble and not think about what's happening Over There. I think that's why a lot of us can sweep it under the rug and forget about it until the next one happens. It's Over There. It's Them. Not Us. I hate to break it to you, but chances are that Over There will soon be Here for a lot of us.
Naturally, folks start slinging the gun debate around. A lot of, "If they had a gun, they'd be alive." Also, "If I was there with my gun, I'd be safe." Would you be safer with a gun? Maybe. Maybe not. A soldier in a war zone, even when it's quiet, knows to be on the lookout for enemies. When we go to the movies or to church or out to eat, we're not expecting bullets to start flying at random. That makes it a hell of a lot harder to protect oneself if we're not expecting it. Pity the shooters aren't polite enough to monologue first like they do in the movies.
Speaking of, I think movies have spoiled us. We want to picture these kinds of things like scenes in a movie, where victims are shot, fall down, and die immediately with eyes closed and a smooth puddle of blood beneath them. That's not reality. Dr. David Newman wrote about what really happens when shooting victims come into the ER (if they're not already dead). He said, "In the movies you always die quickly from a gunshot wound. But not in real life."
No, it's a lot messier than that. Dr. Joshua Corsa, a hero in the Orlando Regional Medical Center the night of the shooting, posted some pictures and his personal experience that went viral:
That is just a fraction of the horror and blood spilled that night. Can you imagine? I hope I never have to. I hope none of us have to, but the reality is we will. Just last night, six people were shot, including a 16-year-old girl who died, in Oakland, CA.
I don't know about you, but I'm sick of it.
I'm sick of people killing each other.
I'm sick of conservatives blaming Obama.
I'm sick of liberals blaming Trump.
I'm sick of some Christians saying the victims were being punished by God because they were gay. Sorry, but my God isn't the asshole you all make him out to be. If you think for one moment that that's true, then explain why all these babies and their teachers died in Newtown:
I'm also sick of the radical Muslims who want to kill homosexuals and everyone else who isn't buying in to their hate campaign.
I'm sick of greedy politicians and organizations that profit off our pain.
I'm sick of the round-and-round-we-go arguments over gun control and the tired excuses and analogies. "You can kill people with a pencil." Can you kill 49 people with a pencil? Maybe if they're comatose. That'd be quite the feat otherwise. The killers could use other things, sure, but they don't. They use guns.
By the way, I'm sick of the arguments over what to call murderers and guns. What the hell does it matter? You could call them a bunny rabbit and it wouldn't make a damn difference.
I'm sick of the powers that be feeding us paranoia about our "rights" being threatened when our rights to be in public without our families being blown apart are being threatened because NOTHING is getting better.
I'm sick of having to tell my kids when we go see a movie, "No, let's sit over here near the EXIT just in case...". That kind of sucks the fun out of it.
I'm sick of having to tell my kids (again) when they ask, "Mommy, why did this man kill those people?"...
"Because he was full of hate." "Because he is evil." "Because....I don't know." I honestly don't know what to tell them anymore, because I can't fathom the hate involved in wanting to kill anyone, especially so many innocent people. I guess that's a good thing, because if I could fathom it, I might be capable of it. That's scary as hell.
How can we make it better? Hell if I know. There is no ONE answer or solution. Gun laws alone won't change much. Mental health improvements alone won't change much. Changing our hearts would go a long way. We live in an era where we shoot each other with virtual hate every day online without batting an eye. We beat each other up and shoot each other for nothing more than cutting someone off in traffic. Racism, bigotry, and all out disrespect is an epidemic in our country.
I'd like to think we can do better than that, America. I'd like to think that we can make this world a better place for our kids. I'd like to think that. But it'll take a whole lot more than thinking. We have to stop arguing and mud-slinging and politicizing every damn thing .
"But, but, but..." NO BUTS!
What will it take? A war? The second coming? Alien invasion? I hope not. But we will all have to sacrifice, compromise, let go of our pride and prejudices (no, not the pretty Jane Austen kind) long enough to admit we have a problem and then work TOGETHER to do something about it. I won't hold my breath, but I will work harder to be kind and to love my fellow human beings. We are all in this thing called life together after all.
I'll leave you with a beautiful quote from a beautiful girl whose indomitable spirit helped her during another horrific time in our history. If she could be positive and kind in the light of so much suffering, then we can, too.