I’ve spent the past week in Vegas. Well, not Vegas, really…Henderson, a suburb of Vegas. Rockfordians, imagine it this way: Rockford : Machesney Park :: Las Vegas : Henderson. Why did I phrase it this way? Because I haven’t seen a good analogy since ACTs back in high school, and I wanted to make it that way. It’s my bl0g, I get to do what I want. That’s the joy of the thing.
Regardless, though the trip has been pleasurable, this hasn’t been a pleasure trip. I came out here to accompany my mother; she came here to have a medical procedure performed and needed to have someone to look out for her. The answers to all the instant questions: She’s doing just fine, it was a routine procedure, we came out to Vegas to see a particular doctor, and there’s nothing to worry about. She’s recovering well and was out of the hospital the day after the procedure. Everything’s cool. But even so, the time that I’ve spent out here has really made me think about life…about my life, about the lives of the people around me, about how we spend our days. Thursday night, 12 people in Colorado woke up and thought about how excited they were to see the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. 12 people sat down in the theater and watched the previews. 12 people walked into a movie theater and never got to go home.
Life can leave you at any time. I woke up in the hotel room on Friday morning and my mother had the TV flipped to Headline News. I watched the helicopter shots, heard the unpolished testimonials, and was shocked. But not as shocked as Virginia Tech. Not as shocked as Valentine’s Day at NIU. Somehow, here in the USA, shootings have become a norm. And I’m not sure how it happened.
Gun violence is always a tragedy. But I read an article from The Onion about the shooting, a satire-based newspaper known for its humor, and somehow I feel like it hits the nail on the head:
“Unfortunately, I’ve been through this a lot, and I pretty much have it down to a science when President Obama will visit Colorado, when he will meet with the families of those who lost loved ones, and when he will give his big speech that people will call ‘unifying’ and ‘very presidential,'” Jacksonville resident Amy Brennen, 32, said, speaking for every other person in the country. “Nothing really surprises me when it comes to this kind of thing anymore. And that makes me feel terrible.”
“Oh, and here’s another thing I hate I know,” Brennen continued, “In exactly two weeks this will all be over and it will be like it never happened.”
What will it take for us to see these situations transpire and finally decide that enough is enough, to take the signs around us seriously? Must we become like the Gaza Strip or the Iraq, sectors of continual war where explosions and gunfire are part of the landscape? How many signs must we see to enact change in our own lives? Will I pretend that I have all the answers to these questions? No. Stricter gun control, concealed carry laws, so many people want to talk about the guns as if the guns are responsible for these deaths. But I would say that gun violence is the symptom of our American problem, a sickness which stems from a lack of unity and lack of compassion for others. In this country, the very notion that someone with large amounts of money could part with some of it to take care of those who have none is a rallying cause for war. So long as we refuse to look out of the those around us, we’ll see massive outpourings of anger and violence. Innocent people will continue to die.
On a personal level, I’m trying to learn that each day is a privilege, an opportunity to succeed. We all have the ability to influence people, to inspire others to action. I’ve been playing through the Harry Potter game Pottermore and have read more of the backstories that compose the Harry Potter universe, learned about the inspirations that Rowling drew upon to create the characters now known the world over. It’s awe-inspiring to see all the wonder that goes into those books.
What’s my point? Whether we’re creating literature that inspires millions, or sending a hail of bullets into innocent people watching a movie, people change the world around us every day. We each have the ability to be an instrument of change, to better or worsen the lives of those around us, or to simply sit idly and let others shape our world for us. We make those choices each and every moment of our lives.
Our world needs heroes. Not the kind with powers or destinies or billions of dollars, but people willing to sacrifice and help others. My friend and fellow blogger, Justine Fitton, says to be worthy of someone else’s sacrifice we must sacrifice as well. I couldn’t agree more. But it doesn’t have to take a career in social work or a misson trip to foreign lands to help others; sometimes it just takes the determination to follow your own heart and dreams, then watch your results change lives. Focus, change the world for the better. Be a hero.