Why am I so angry this time?
I’ve been struggling to understand why this past mass shooting pushed me over the edge. I lost my marbles after Sandy Hook but felt it was going to lead to change. Cuz how couldn’t it, right? And it felt like it might for a bit, but it didn’t somehow. Then Charleston happened and it did lead to change, but not gun reform. Still a great step forward, though. But something was different this time because it made me angry. Like really, really angry. I chalked it up to this just being the straw that broke the camel’s back.
But then I read this and everything became clear. This is just one of many examples of different people from different walks of life showing their humanity. A bunch of Orthodox Jews led by a man who hasn’t been to a bar in over 20 years, and never to a gay bar, led his whole congregation to a gay bar near their synagogue (The Fireplace for my D.C. friends) as a sign of solidarity. The story is an emotional one that ends with everyone having learned something new and feeling more love at the end of the day than they started it with. There are so many stories like this one.
And here is where this uplifting story made me understand my anger. While these violent crimes are helping people from all walks of life find their humanity, there is another group of people, a very powerful group of people, who are shunning their humanity. Who are choosing to do nothing to help contribute to the healing. Who are so fearful of change that they’ve lost the ability to feel empathy. How have we arrived at this point? We’ve all seen the posts in our feeds. The “reap what you sow” tweets. The placing blame on a lazy government or a bad President. The empty “thoughts and prayers” comments.
I’m angry because I finally see that our lack of empathy and humanity has crossed over from having consequences on our social safety net, on our education system, on any number of things to actual, straight up matters of life and death. We have the power to fix this problem tomorrow. And it’s not because we don’t have the courage to do it, because the majority of us do, in fact. But just enough of the right people lack the empathy and humanity to even have a conversation about how we could help save 35,000 lives every year. That means that people across this country, people I love and people I’ve never met, will wake up tomorrow and some of them will die. Or they’ll lose a loved one, a friend, or a co-worker.
And that makes me angry. Maybe it’s the big brother in me but we should all be protective of each other, at least to some degree. Maybe that degree means waiting a few more days to get a gun. Or filling out a longer form or taking a class. Maybe you won’t be able to buy a certain gun anymore, but no one else will either, so you’re not really missing out.
I’m trying not to let my anger make me lose my empathy or my humanity. I’m trying, very hard. And hoping that enough of the right people on the wrong side of this issue will find some empathy, will discover a little extra humanity and help us get this done. The devil will be in the details but we have to get this done. There is no reason this should be a politically divisive issue. I’m voting for empathy but I’m not waiting for November to cast my ballot. Let’s get this done. Let’s get this done now. Because just in the time it took me to type this stupid post, someone has probably died unnecessarily. And that should make us all angry.