In no way am I an expert in what I’m about to talk about. In no way am I feeling anything remotely close to what those directly involved must feel. Just witnessing the snippets of their grief has been enough to trigger levels of sadness I haven’t allowed myself to feel for a long time. I am writing this today as therapy for myself and am choosing to publish it in hopes that maybe there is someone out there that shares in some of the thoughts that have run through my head in the past few days.
Orlando, Florida. A place that, to an outsider like myself, is usually associated with an image of a family-friendly, sunny paradise.
While I’m sure, just like any other well-known city in the United States, crimes happen…and no, I am not going to look up that specific statistic because it isn’t the point of this post. My point is this: one person has the ability to affect people’s perception of something, someone, or some place. ONE PERSON.
These horrific instances are blatant reminders of this point. What frustrates me the most is that these heartbreaking events garner the most attention. As a person that studied media in college, I understand that it’s a journalist’s job to report on current events…and this was a big one. Everyone deserves to be informed and I thank all of the reputable resources I have used in the past couple of days to keep up with what has been happening since that early Sunday morning. However, I also know that a big part of a journalist’s job is to listen to the people, report on what they are interested in learning about and to be a watchdog figure for the community.
What I don’t understand is the disproportionate emphasis on negative news. Well, actually, I do understand it. Negative media fosters higher ratings because of an innate response to protect ourselves from harm.
Sadly, we’ve fallen into a cycle of news that is dominated by fear. Something bad happens, the news reports it. In fear, people gravitate to this news in order to file in their brain what to watch out for in order to avoid mental, physical or emotional damage. Valid. Yet, the constant saturation of negative news and this reactive response feeds into the cycle. At least that’s my belief. We have been brainwashed to think negative news is all we want to see.
Anyways, that has the potential to be it’s own separate post.
I’m frustrated because I suspect that the person responsible for all the recent pain and sadness firmly believed that the only solution to his personal problems was violence. He probably felt like he lived in a world so dark and hopeless that the only answer was to try to bring others down with him before he left it. I’m sure he was also aware that his actions wouldn’t go unnoticed.
I’m frustrated that after enough time passes, people will assimilate back to their normal lives and continue to believe that they do not have the ability to affect change.
If one person had the power to instill fear, brew anger and spread sadness in mass quantities, one person definitely has the power to do the opposite.
It is not a Disney dream my friends. We do have it in us to make positive change in this world we live in. Don’t let the negativity belittle your sense of power. ESPECIALLY, do not let those in designated “places of authority/power” make you believe you don’t have a say in what becomes law in our country. We do have a say. Remember that governmental structure called Democracy? Yeah, it still exists. It’s just buried in a bunch of bullsh*t. Don’t let the bullsh*t scare you. Be willing to learn it and navigate through it.
If you want to see less violence, do something about it. If not directly contacting your local representatives to share your thoughts on gun policies…then at the very least spread kindness and compassion in your daily life. I believe I said something similar in my post about Santa Barbara.
Smile at someone. Open a door for a stranger. Say hello to someone you have random eye contact with. Say “thank you” more. Let’s lessen the time spent looking down at our phones and more time looking up and around at our surroundings. Make an effort to genuinely connect with people and learn something new…everyday. I believe that a build up of little positive moments to outweigh the inevitable not-so-good moments leads to an overall positive/hopeful perception of the world.
Here is my message to those who were specifically targeted in Orlando this past weekend and the LGBTQ+ community as a whole: I love you, I support you, I am your ally ❤ I realize I will never fully understand the struggles you go through on a daily basis, but I can do my part and learn as much as I can. I will never stop being willing to learn a new perspective.
To end this stream of consciousness, I have no doubt that the Orlando community will take this instance and come out of the grieving process a much stronger group. ❤
Here are some resources you can access to turn “thoughts and prayers” into ACTION:
- Contact your local government representatives here: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials
- View a map of reported gun violence incidents here: http://www.gunviolencearchive.org