In the latest of a series of gun related incidents, a man shot a reporter, photographer and witness, killing two of them before turning the gun on himself. I followed the story closely all day from my office as the tragic details emerged. But as the details came in, so did posts like these:
That got responses like this
I want you to imagine that you’re in middle school. The resident bully sets up an elaborate prank wherein you are drenched with spoiled milk in front of your crush. In the moments following this series of events, people start yelling about how bad bullying is, what a waste of milk that was and how this is a sign of the broken American school system. Now I ask you, do you care more about those arguments or the fact that you’ve lost your crush forever?
Look at it from this angle as well. People in the cafeteria are emotional, screaming and yelling at each other. When they’re calmed down by the aide, their feelings of rage go away-along with the energy to protest. Even worse, maybe their opinions, as well formed as they are, are invalidated as emotional ramblings. Maybe if they had waited until they were outside of the cafeteria, more people wouldn’t be in danger of rotten milk-but we can’t know for sure. Unfortunately, we deal with much bigger things than that every day.
When people use tragedies to support their causes so close to a horrible event, it can ignite others to take a stand as well. And that is important. But even more important are the lives of those directly affected. The families of the shooting victims need support the day of, not through angry tweets and yelling, but with kindness and dignity.
Give them time to grieve.
Yes, gun violence, race issues, mental health are all topics that need to be discussed. Let us do that-after the memorial service. Maybe you’ll argue that no one will care if we wait long after a specific incident. If that’s true, then you must take it upon yourself to remind people when they begin to forget. That’s why there’s #blacklivesmatter, #itgetsbetter, #heforshe. Not just for one singular tragedy. But to to raise awareness. To show we are fighting a long battle that we won’t win right away. To remember.
But we can do that all very soon. Right now, send your love and good feelings to the families and everyone at #WDJB. Because right now isn’t about mental illness, racial issues or gun violence.
It’s about healing.
It’s about community.
It’s about grief.