Orlando Shooting: A Week To Forget
By now, you’ve probably seen that there was a shooting in Orlando.
Like most Americans, you were probably pretty emotional when you found out what happened. I’m guessing that you probably have some kind of opinion of how to stop this from happening again; maybe you watched some media reports, or read a celebrities “tweets”; maybe you threw yourself in the arena of debate and took part in some of the post-massacre arguments on your favorite social online webpage. Maybe you saw some insightful article about the 2nd Amendment or gun control and decided to forward it to everyone you knew. Maybe you kicked some acquaintance to the curb because they had a philosophical difference of opinion on how to prevent future atrocities.
That’s fine; I respect your right to speak your mind.
For me personally, I took the week off.
I spent the last several days in reflection. I thought about how I would feel if this had been my loved one, my child, my best friend victimized in such a horrific manner. I thought about what the families must be going through right now, trying to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives. I thought about how those affected will never be the same. I did all of these things.
But I also did other things too.
I finally trimmed that bush in the backyard that has been annoying me for so long; I took the kids to a nature preserve; I watched some baseball, and I even managed to squeeze in a round of golf with my wife. Yes, I admit it. While the rest of the country was in mourning, I was working on my short game.
It seems callous, but the truth is that I just got tired of reading all of the hate, all the blame. I got tired of people using this tragedy as a justification for pushing their personal political beliefs and agendas. I never stopped thinking about the victims or their families, but I had quite enough of everyone complaining from behind their laptops and then going about their day-to-day lives.
Again, I respect your right to speak your mind. So now I’m going to speak mine.
I’m completely convinced that the vast majority of our country will forget about this in about a week or two. I mean, I’d be shocked if I found a person in America who could tell me the name of the shooter at UCLA without looking it up (Mainak Sarkar, by the way). I’d be equally shocked if I could find anyone who remembered his victims (Dr. William Klug and Ashley Hasti).
The UCLA shooting was a two-weeks ago, people. The San Bernardino shooting? Six months ago. Anyone remember how many people died in that one? Fourteen. Fourteen people, gone forever.
So what’s my point? It’s quite simple. These issues are not going to be fixed in a day, or a week or a month. If you want solutions to long-term problems, you need to dedicate yourself to long-term solutions. If you want to control guns in our country, fine, then get out and do what you need to do to make your community support that. If you want a strict enforcement of firearms regulations in our country, do something other than forward a YouTube video of some political candidate calling for “common sense” solutions. All you’re doing with your “like” option is inciting argumentative hostility and expecting other people to carry the torch you proudly hold that day. You’ll get tired of this soapbox, but that’s okay. Another one will come along for you to stand on.
Maybe you could say the same thing about me…. I mean, what have I done about identifying and stopping violence in the community, right (other than starting a non-profit foundation dedicated to proactively addressing these issues, of course)? You’re right, there’s always more to be done. I’ll point my all-knowing finger at myself too.
I know this: I may be playing golf and trimming bushes when you’re crying for community safety, but rest assured that I’ll be wondering where you are next week when I’m doing my part. Let’s see if you’re doing your part, or if you’ve decided instead to light another torch and find another soapbox.
Jason Wells is the President and Founder of the National Advancements for Proactive Safety, an educational non-profit organization committed to providing a safe community through intervention processes. He is a former Special Agent with the United States Secret Service, and holds a Masters of Science with highest honors in Strategic Security and Protection Management. Mr. Wells is currently pursuing his doctorate in Strategic Security with a focus on proactive interventions to stop threat-related behavior. Additionally, he is a weekly contributing writer to the online publication Robious Corridor and has been featured in the Huffington Post. His first book on proactive safety will be out this Fall. Jason can be contacted at email@example.com.