With the news of the deadliest mass shooting in United States history, I find it imperative to talk openly about the impact that this tragedy has in this country and many others. It has become more apparent as we’ve experienced these mass shootings, that there has not been one specific reason that they occur. The mass shooting that occurred in Orlando proves that there is a continued need for advocating for those considered minorities. As we remember other mass shootings that have occurred in recent United States history, such as Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, and Columbine, it was not clear that the shooters in those events were targeting a specific minority group. In the Orlando mass shooting, it was clear that the LGBTQ community was the main target. We are now halfway through the year 2016, and there has been a tremendous amount of progress in rights of the LGBTQ community, yet tragedies like last night’s continue to happen.
When we hear about tragedies of any kind, the first thing many people think may be “that won’t happen to me.” However, as the tragedy strikes closer and closer to what we call home, it becomes that much more of a reality. Mass shootings have been occurring more often in the recent history of the United States, and we as a country continue to struggle with what to do differently to prevent these situations from happening.
Often times, what comes first is the anger and frustration that the community, country, or world at large has in regards to political stances and stereotypes about the person or people responsible for the tragedy. It may be helpful to discuss changes and shifts in gun control laws or how to implement added security in clubs, music venues, schools, etc. However, it becomes even more urgent that we as a country talk about how we can come together to advocate for the rights and safety of all people regardless of race, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs.
When tragedy strikes, it is our job to start conversations and actions around what needs to be different to prevent further tragedy from happening in the future. In what ways can we use our anger, frustration, or disgust to empower and encourage others to love and better understand those that may be different from us? Coming together with the purpose to create events that encourage others to be proud of who they are and what they have to offer is one way that we can fight this. Many other cities around the United States continued their Pride Parades in honor of those that lost their lives to this tragedy, but also to let the world know that they are not going to back down. This reminds me so much of how the United States stood together in unity to get back up and fight after the terror attacks on 9/11. We as a country can make a difference to continue the fight for equality and to work to lessen and hopefully end violence such as mass shootings and other tragic events.
The willingness to talk about how these shootings impact those near and far can create platforms for continued awareness around safety. When we stop talking about the impact that these events have in our lives, that is when we run the risk of the events happening again. Talk to your family members and friends about how this event or past events have changed your thoughts and behaviors. Maybe this event has opened your eyes to the importance of being more aware of your surroundings, maybe it fueled your desire to do more advocating, or maybe it simply allowed you to shift your perspective on a controversial topic. Whatever it may be for you, invite others into this conversation in hopes that we can become stronger together.
(Photo Credit: Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)