Like most people, I am absolutely gutted by the news that now 19 children and two teachers were killed at an elementary school last week.
It took time to process it and we’ll all still be processing it for a while. Acts this heinous, stir the core of our beings as we try to grapple with it being real.
I’m the couple days following, I noticed a general anxiety settle onto me that couldn’t be tied to anything in particular. Just an uneasiness. It saps my energy. I’m tired. Everyone is tired. It’s been two plus years of uneasiness. We’re screaming inside for normalcy. Normalcy like we had in 2019.
We were cleaning up dinner last night and my phone went off, a loud, blaring alarm that at first I thought was either the fire alarm or carbon monoxide alarm. I realized it was my phone and read that we were under a tornado warning and it said to take shelter immediately. Without missing a beat, all of us got to the basement with the dog and it just felt normal. It didn’t even trigger my adrenaline. I was oddly calm. Then again, after all the insanity of the last two years and the last couple days, a tornado doesn’t feel that scary when you’re in your home and all your loved ones are with you. We know what to do. We felt mostly protected. Our world as a whole used to feel that way too.
I don’t know all the details surrounding the school shooting. I do know that many people are feeling anxious and sad and that often turns to anger. It’s less scary when we can name our enemies and think we have all the answers to fight them. We can place all our negative emotions and feelings on this enemy and then we can do all in our power to defeat them and then we feel better. Anger, towards a particular foe is easier to feel than anxiety and grief.
So you will see people, politicians and those with a large platform getting angry and telling us what the simple solution is that will stop such an atrocity from ever occurring again. And they’ll tear into their political opponents and those that vote like they do and our already divided nation will divide into tribalism even further.
But I wish we could stop it. I wish we could take a beat to just process our collective grief before turning ugly towards one another yet again.
There’s something so broken in our country and I’ve never seen things as bad as they are today. It makes me yearn for the decades that I grew up in. No social media, I didn’t know any of my neighbors political beliefs.
Last weekend we had a block party on my street. It is something so simple, yet they are very rare today. People came over and chatted and politics just never came up. People talked to one another and shared food and the children all ran around playing and jumped in the giant bounce house. I couldn’t help but feel sentimental over it. After the last couple years it just felt so incredibly wonderful to get together with a bunch of people.
I don’t have the answers about why this horrible act occurred or how to prevent it but I do think it’s probably a complex problem that doesn’t have simple answers. I think if we just keep angrily shouting at each other instead of having respectful dialog, things will only get worse.
I hope in the days and weeks to come, you consider my words and try to process your feelings and fears instead of just latching onto political anger. I hope you spend more time talking to people in real life than arguing with people online or just posting hateful rhetoric to get a few likes from your echo chamber. If we want to change this world we have to stop what we’re doing!
I spent some time researching Woodstock the other night, of all random things. I looked at hundreds of photos of the event and they made me happy. There was so much unrest in 1969, yet our youth got together in a way that’s unimaginable today. I know there were dark parts of Woodstock too, but there was also pure joy and freedom. People looked happy and healthy. It’s hard to look at those pictures of a girl in a sports bra and shorts running through the mud with a smile on her face as a crowd smiled and cheered and imagine them now. Locked in their homes behind their computers and smart phones yelling at people online. What happened to them?!
We have got to get back to that spirit of peace and not war. Of love and acceptance. Of being able to talk to people that are different than us. Not just different in appearance but different in views. Even if we find their views “harmful”. Most people, regardless of their views want the same things and feel just as sad as we do when tragedy strikes. We should be want to unite in our collective grief right now instead of pointing fingers. We should be able to brainstorm solutions that everyone can agree on.
It’s a broken world and it’s always been that way and will always be that way. But it’s still beautiful and we can be part of the beauty or part of the brokenness.