Let’s Wait Until The Next One

Let’s get angry and sign petitions today and then by Thursday, we can continue making our brunch plans for the weekend. The next one will surely change something, right? Politicians? Laws? Gun shows? Metal detectors? Let’s just wait it out and see.

Let’s focus on Twitter battles between candidates, because it reminds us of reality TV and ooh don’t we love drama and people that fight… so long as we’re not victims. 2020 will be the one that matters, because this one is too entertaining to be considered politics. So we don’t have to care how our favorite (or least favorite) candidate reacts and takes action after this one. Or if they do at all. “Thoughts and prayers” show us they’re human too, right? The next one will be different and better. Let’s wait.

Let’s make sure that we stay the most free nation in the world, and not restrict anything or set up new rules because of new behaviors. If we’ve learned anything from violence, it’s that countries who have harsher gun laws in the wake of public shootings like Japan, Canada and Australia (4) are much worse off than we are. America: F*** yeah. am I right? I love this country and our freedom too much to change. Poor kids in Orlando, am I right? Too bad. I hope another one doesn’t happen, but let’s wait until the next one to see if I should give up my guns, am I right?

Let’s wait until the next one, maybe it’ll show us a clear solution.

Let’s wait to show our opinions and take any sort of stand. This one is too confusing because we’re not sure whether to talk about gun control, gay rights, or terrorism. I mean, we all know that the weapon of choice, an AR-15 assault rifle, was the same one used at the Aurora, Colorado movie theatre shooting and Sandy Hook elementary (1)– the two most deadly mass shootings in US history prior to this weekend’s, both in 2012. And we know by now that gay men can’t donate blood for fear that they might have HIV, even though other ethnic groups are disproportionally affected–specifically Blacks and Hispanics (2). And yes, there are more gay men affected, but just to be safe, shouldn’t we restrict all groups? But we could never prevent those minorities from donating blood because that would be racist. But it’s ok to be homophobic. And of course we know that since September 11, domestic terrorism has caused more deaths than Jihadist extremists (think Charlston, San Bernadino, Sandy Hook, Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, Binghampton, DC Naval Yard– I can’t believe there’s been so many) (3). It’s confusing.

Let’s confuse the issue and talk about xenophobic anti-Muslim anti-immigration solutions without realizing that that’s where this problem stems from. Fearing people different than us, not understanding or empathizing with someone else is the motive for the attack. Don’t feed that fear. Seek understanding and to be understood. Remember that just as Love is Love, hate is hate, just the same. And our hate is not any more “good” or justified than his was.

But let’s be honest. Change takes time, but we can’t wait.

Let’s start today. Let’s make sure to hold our representatives and our presidential candidates to the standard of actually representing us and not the lobbies that pay for their campaigns. Let’s do our homework and see which politicians are taking money from the NRA, masking their votes and intentions with “thoughts and prayers.” Here’s (5) a good place to start, and for more, check out Igor Volsky’s Twitter feed.

Let’s remember that we can look externally for factors and reasons why this happened. The desire for our generation to be “famous,” the allowance of ISIS for anyone to claim an attack in their name, media, video games, copycat attacks… Or we could look at ourselves. We are not individually responsible for these acts, but we contribute. For every piece of news, we have a choice in our reaction. We can watch an act of hate and react with hatred. Or we can react with compassion. We can use these moments, and there are far too many in our recent memories, to look inward and take some responsibility. Not in changing the world, but at least changing what we can, in our own world and in ourselves. We can teach our children to love and to use words when they’re mad. We can do the same and teach our parents as well. We can donate blood and march in solidarity. We can sell back our guns and speak up on social media, spreading this message. We can sign petitions, donate, and most importantly, vote smart. We can choose information and education over impulse, recognizing that smart is always more powerful in the long run. Intellectualism wins.

Photo by Gabrielle Lurie, Special To The SFChronicle

Let’s also not let this act of hate overshadow the light that we may find in these moments. The acts of solidarity across the country: from the long lines of people in Orlando waiting to donate blood, to flowers at the Stonewall Inn to mass moments of silence in the Castro. The artwork and writing that will come out of this, that will shape our thoughts and culture and that will go on to affect us more deeply and long-lasting than the headlines. The victory in the Tony’s last night recognizing the best acting in four Black actors (6). The parades and celebrations of pride, which deserve to be loud and big and unified and may we all raise our voices, march along and celebrate with them–LGBTQ and allies alike. Love IS love, and yours is needed.

The reality is, the mass shooting in Orlando yesterday won’t be the last one in our lifetime. We’ll get riled up for a few days and be passionate, and then we’ll move on. But let’s not let time or politics or other’s inaction soften us to forget the anger and frustration, the passion and the deep sadness we felt this weekend when we heard. We can’t wait, only to do this again.

For more information and ways to take action:
http://everytown.org/
http://www.hrc.org/
http://out-rage.tumblr.com/

Footnotes
(1)
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/orlando-club-shooter-ar-15-rifle-newtown-article-1.2670739

(2) http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/statistics/overview/ataglance.html

(3) http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/06/12/481768384/a-list-of-the-deadliest-mass-shootings-in-u-s-history

(4) http://time.com/4172274/what-its-like-to-own-guns-in-a-country-with-strict-gun-control/

(5) http://qz.com/704987/political-twitter-after-americas-worst-ever-mass-shooting-is-a-depressing-mix-of-hypocrisy-and-routine/

(6) http://variety.com/2016/legit/awards/2016-tony-awards-black-actors-win-four-best-performance-lead-actor-featured-actress-1201794198/