When Your Country Has an Empathy Problem

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As of today, there have been 307 shootings in 311 days. At bars, places of worship, and yes, even a yoga studio.

Clearly, nothing is sacred.

This isn’t political—this is a public health crisis and nobody is immune. There's no vaccine. There's no preventative care plan. It’s literally an attack on humanity like a nasty airborne virus. Instead of attacking our organs, it's attacking our American dream; life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. 

Before we go off and “discuss” how we solve the symptom, let’s try looking for the cause.

We don’t have a gun problem.

We don’t have a justice problem.

We have an EMPATHY problem.

Until we ask, “what’s it like to be you?” and consider the totality of someone’s life while also assuming that every human just wants to live a good life, this shit is going to continue. Until we acknowledge that we’d do the same thing if we were exactly like them, this shit is going to continue.

We can start by asking what it’s like to be a victim of a mass shooting, clinging to life, all because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time. A concert, a movie, a nightclub; just trying to escape the hardships of being a human. Just trying to live their best life. (Not to mention going through this a second time in life -- Las Vegas and then Thousand Oaks. I can't even imagine. I'm not sure I could deal.)

We can do this by asking what it’s like to be a grieving parent who just lost a child to gun violence. And how they’ll teach their other children to be brave and go out into the world and live a semblance of a normal life after this, knowing it could happen to them again, at any time. And we can ask that parent will try to do the same for themselves.

We can do this by asking what it’s like to be a responsible gun owner that’s vilanized by a crime they didn’t commit. Whose inbox, FB feed, and text messages are overflowing with information from sources that make a profit off the fear that we’re all coming for their guns.

We can do this by asking what it's like to be the shooter; to not think much about their own life that they take it from others. Who hurt them? What was it like to be them? What was it like to not be seen? To feel like they didn't matter? To feel like their life never mattered? Or worse--what does it feel like to fight for a country that doesn't help you when you return? That doesn't see you after you take off your fatigues? That doesn't treat you like one human who sacrificed a lot for many, but just a number running through an over-crowded and under-funded process that ignores the effects of war on physical, mental, and emotional health. 

Until we stop trying to solve the symptom and not the cause, this shit is going to continue. Until we start experiencing what it’s like to be somebody else without our own judgement, this shit is going to continue. Until we start having conversations with each other to come up with a solution, this shit is going to continue.

And nobody is immune.


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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