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Objective look: less politics, more empathy

in FEATURES by

The world’s a scarier place than mom said. My coping mechanism: Surrounding myself with like-minded people.

While that sort of isolation might seem ignorant, it gives me some faith in humanity – that we’re all shooting for equality, respect life and love our fellow brothers and sisters. Maybe that’s my inner Franciscan coming out – or maybe I’m just in denial.

Sadly, though, in the wake of mass killings at Pulse Nightclub and, most recently, the Route 91 Harvest Festival, it’s hard to believe in that sort of common good.

I’m left questioning how we’ve landed ourselves in such a hateful place; I wonder how those born on the same grounds, living and breathing the same air and experiencing the greatest gift of all – life, can hurt one another or, even worse, kill one another.

Often, aside from the trauma rendered from hearing of lives lost, I’m let down by the way we cope with tragedy – most commonly in the form of a political screaming match. It’s like we fight fire with fire – hate with hate – and how we’ve doped ourselves into a twisted belief that actually helps bandage wounds and heal hearts baffles me.

In all the post-trauma debate, though, a hand in this unapologetic evil is unveiled: We, as a society, have no regard for life in the first place.

It feels like everything we once knew to be normal, sane and level-headed has been thrown to the waste side. We’ve become desensitized by this caliber of violence, and aside from the fear of these attacks, that passive reaction when they happen should scare us just as much.

I remember being in high school during the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting and feeling that surreal blow to the chest of “Wow, this really happened.” Nobody knew what to make of it because such senseless killing felt impossible in a world birthed from God’s grandeur; it all seemed too evil to actually pan out.

Personally, I couldn’t comprehend what we’d done as a nation to become a stomping ground for such disaster. I think we all wondered that, but we hoped and prayed legislation and education could lock us into a safe space where this horror couldn’t erupt yet again.

But we’ve seen these killings continue – ruining families and taking innocent lives. But, still, nothing productive comes of the tragedy. And all the news seems to support is political banter and filling the day’s news cycle.

Our acceptance of mass shootings as a “modern day reality,” in turn serving as a foundation to our political ideologies, makes me feel like we’re all trapped in some sort of ninth installation of American Horror Story; it’s sickening, animalistic.

Of course, I think stripping the common person of access to machine guns is necessary, because no civilian needs a machine gun in the first place. But the fact we overlook love, comfort and outreach in times of domestic and international terrorism says one thing: Ideologically, life really doesn’t mean all that much to even the common person.

If we did care for life, the day after these attacks wouldn’t become a screaming match of left vs. right, gun control vs. the “right to bear arms.” Rather, it’d be a time to support the families of victims and reflect on productive measures we can all agree on.

Instead of all the arguing, we’d talk about our avoidance of reporting citizens of concern, the fact we too often disregard the lives of those around us and how we can create safer spaces through non-invasive bag checks, surveillance and background checks. Damn, at the base level, we’d at least talk about how to comfort victims’ families if new prevention methods aren’t enough.

See, gun control isn’t the only issue we’re battling here. It’s the messaging that runs through our country and our disregard for life. We’ve become so blinded by our self-advancement, our blatant hedonism.

This is a time to dive deep into the depths of our human empathy and compassion – to think of how we’ve created a world where something like this can happen. I’d bet that sort of thoughtful conversation would yield a far more productive outcome than a political screaming match.

mcgurllt14@bonaventure.edu

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