Everyday on the TV or on a Facebook wall, we see images of flaring sirens with a bold, black headline plastered at the bottom of the screen. A name along with a cause of death is displayed for a few fleeting seconds before it fades. That person may have been woken up to a normal day: taking a walk around the neighborhood, going out dancing or going to school. Yet in that one moment, someone was unkind and normal eventually became a nightmare. These places that we deemed safe become minefields, and the imaginary barriers that we thought protected us crack. So what happens when they completely shatter?
There appears to be this popular decision to stay silent, and to just keep going. Why is that? Maybe we’re still in a period of mourning. Maybe the situation is just too complicated to be solved within a few days or even weeks. Maybe we only want to remember the good as a way to give us hope to keep going.
But is that really okay?
The more we avoid discussing these issues, the more we become desensitized to them. The more tolerable they become until one day they become apart of our everyday lives. Are we so uncomfortable with sadness and tragedy that we’re okay with pretending it doesn’t exist? Do we really want to be so content with the way things are, that whenever something unexpected occurs, we do our best cover it up in order to continue our lives?
Sure, change isn’t convenient or comfortable most of the time. It requires us to step out of our comfort zones and into the unknown. It brings up topics that we don’t usually talk about, or ideas that we don’t usually think about. Of course it’s a risk to be ignorant, to be unaware of what we may face ahead. It can be scary enough to coerce us to run back into the force field that claims to guard us from these threats.
But what are we going to do when those dangers start hunting us? What do we do when the body count rises? What do we do when we grow more afraid of what used to be normal? It’s not the time to be complacent, it never was. When we debate about anything, be it guns, immigration or national security, we must start talking and start thinking about things we wouldn’t normally discuss.
Sometimes I feel afraid just walking outside, because what if I suddenly hear a few bangs and then I become a name displayed on a TV screen for 2 seconds? Sometimes I put my guard up around non-Asians because my family and I have been discriminated for the way we look. Even so, that doesn’t mean I should ignore these nerves or these fears and continue on.
We should mourn for those we lost, but we should also talk about why these things happen. What do we need to do in order to prevent them from happening again? Who do we need to contact and what do we need to say to implement these much needed changes? I believe that we highly underestimate the power of language. Our ideas need to be turned into words in order to be heard, and then those words need to turn into action. How many more people need to die before any change is made? How many more names need to show up on the screens? We can do better than this. We need to do better than this.