Yesterday a gunman shot his ex-wife and attempted to take his own life at a mall I have frequented countless times. I grew up walking through those stores, eating at their restaurants, and attending many movies. There is even an indoor playground where I have taken my children.
Around 2:15pm yesterday, police received a call that there was an active shooter, and over the next few hours, more details began to disseminate through social media and other online platforms. The woman was 30 years old, the man 33. This was a domestic violence issue. They had two kids who were safe. She was dead on arrival, and he was in critical condition.
And instead of mourning this tragedy with respect, we will fight on Facebook about whether this was a gun control or mental health issue. We will fight with our friends and belittle any dissenters who stand in the way of us shouting for peace and fairness and protection. We will mock and scoff at anyone who disagrees with us. Memes will be created to oversimplify a complicated issue.
When the real problem is that we are shouting because we feel unheard. We are shouting because we feel fear, and as a mother, I was scared yesterday. So what did I do with this built up energy? Since energy can be neither created nor destroyed, I transferred it. I took my anxiety of what could have happened if I was there today, and I reframed it into gratitude for the safety of my family. I spent the afternoon engaged with my children, grateful for every smile, every giggle, every hug.
I could have hopped on social media, touting the virtues of one perspective over another, but have we gotten anywhere with this tactic? Is anything actually changing? What kind of example are we setting for the children who essentially lost both of their parents yesterday?
My desire is that we do not use this an an opportunity to further widen the divide between opposing sides. My desire is that we find some common ground and unite together. Why are there only two camps: mental health or gun control? Why can’t we simply be people concerned about people and work towards compromise, instead of hurling blame back and forth like a grenade?
I hope we can take our fear and transfer it into appreciation, compassion, and ingenuity and use it in the pursuit of common ground. I hope that we can focus on finding an effective solution, instead of pouring our energy into convincing a soon-to-be-ex-facebook-friend that we were right.