Since the recent mass shooting in Orlando, my screen has been flooded with feelings of heartbreak, anger, and futility. It’s easy to feel futile when something that seems so clear, so obvious as our problem with gun violence, still doesn’t make sense to the people around us and still feels impossible to combat. What can we do on a practical level to make a difference? To fix this broken system and to heal the fractured trust between members and groups that share our community and our country.
Writing on social media (this post included) can feel very much like screaming into the void. The reason I believe we’re all still doing it is because it feels like the only thing we can do, the only way we can feel we’re being heard. But the more I lay awake at night thinking in circles about what can be done, the more I think that talking could be a very real part of the solution. I don’t mean on the internet. I mean putting down your phone and laptop and actually talking to someone who has a different view from you.
It’s much harder to have this discussion face to face than it is in the comments section, but that makes it much more valuable. It’s shocking and hurtful, and incredibly hard to admit, but we all know someone who’s been misinformed about the issues that are dominating what we see, hear, and read. We all know someone who quietly or not so quietly thinks their personal rights are paramount here. We all know someone who doesn’t feel personally affected by this tragedy when we should, we all should. On one hand, it’s easy to just avoid the discussion because you want to believe the people in your life are good and understand. Whether they be family, friends, acquaintances, coworkers, or just the people you see every morning during your commute. On the other hand it’s just as easy to term anyone who disagrees with you a hateful bigot, a complete lost cause, rather than someone who could learn to understand.
It won’t always work, but if you can change the perspective of the people in your own life, even slightly, wouldn’t it be worth it to have tried?
From my perspective, the major issues are all connected: the struggle for LGBT rights, the fight against still rampant racism and the violence it engenders, the terrifying and extreme escalation of gun violence… these are all issues where hate and egotism, fueled my misinformation and misunderstanding, are being allowed to trump the value of human life. This is a fight, a fight for our lives, on multiple fronts. Not everyone is going to make this fight their career, not everyone is going to spend their day off protesting. But if you have the opportunity, which you probably do, to share your thoughts and your feelings, do not back down and do not shy away.
Even when you’re exhausted from arguing around the dinner table, even when you’re frustrated from talking through the same reasoning over and over, do it again. Wear down the people you love (or just coexist with) with tireless understanding and honesty. Listen to their reasoning, hear them out, and then respond with thoughtfulness, and always with love. Logic is on our side. The value of human life is on our side. Don’t lose hope, don’t lose pride, and don’t just let it lie.