Last Sunday evening, I was sitting, sun burnt and happy, in this very chair, scrolling through Facebook when I saw an alarming post in a women’s group I’m in. “There’s an active shooter at the Gilroy Garlic Festival-local birds, please check in so we know you’re okay.”
I thought surely there must be some mistake. I mean, that is twenty minutes away from my house! I had almost gone this year for the first time ever, but we opted not to for whatever arbitrary reason. I quickly jumped onto a local news site, and sure as hell, it was true. Right here, practically in my neighborhood.
It was just a short time ago that I was frantically messaging my friend Stephanie in Virginia Beach after a man there opened fire in a government building where he worked. That was right there, right in her town. She couldn’t believe it was happening in her hometown.
Yesterday, I was at Jiffy Lube, getting my oil changed, when I was alerted that there was a mass shooting in a busy Walmart in El Paso, packed with families getting back to school supplies. The stories I read were from people who were just grabbing unattended children and running for their lives…There was one other man in the waiting room at the oil change place with me. “There’s been another shooting.” I said, “In El Paso.” “Huh.” he said, and went back to his magazine.
This morning, I woke up to find there was another shooting, this time in Ohio. I haven’t read the news about it yet. I will, but I don’t really need to. I can make an educated guess that it was a white male, most likely in his late teens or early 40’s, though not always. He probably doesn’t like people who aren’t the same color as him. Maybe I’m wrong, but probably not. Chances are, he’s been posting something somewhere- maybe Reddit, maybe Facebook, Instagram, or some other, less well-known, more “white nationalist” flavored site. This will come out after the fact, as it always does.
I’m not even going to go into my feelings about how our current administration (and by that, make no mistake that I am pointing directly at the so-called leader here) is fueling the fires of racial tension with his behavior and words. If you can’t see that, I won’t be able to convince you otherwise.
What I want to talk about is this: Right now, there is going to be an upsurge in the same outcry we have heard time and time and time again- GUN CONTROL! We need GUN CONTROL! When are THEY going to DO SOMETHING?!
Kids, I hate to break it to you, but “They” are clearly not gonna do shit. We are on our own here. It is you, and your neighbors, and your communities full of people you love, children, elderly, families, teenagers, outcasts and recluses- all of US, against a few bad and dangerous, sick, volatile few.
It is up to US.
If you see something, SAY SOMETHING.
If someone you know posts something online that could be a joke, but also might not be- it is your responsibility to bring it to the attention of someone who can help.
If your SON is troubled and you worry about what is going on with him, maybe he says things you don’t support and he’s a little more angry than usual, but he’s your son, and you know he would never…it is your responsibility to step in.
It might be nothing. You might feel stupid, and like a snitch, and worry about making trouble for someone for no good reason. With nothing but love, I tell you this: Fuck that. This is no time for giving people the benefit of the doubt. Innocent people are literally being gunned down while they eat calamari at food festivals, while they wait for the next band to come on, while they buy their kids wide rule paper at Wal Mart. If there is even one billionth of a chance that you could somehow prevent the next slew of pointless deaths, you better jump on it.
In this weird era of disconnection from not only our neighbors but our loved ones- often loved ones living under the same roof- I think all this violence is a very good reason to reacquaint ourselves with our surroundings. Check up on your adult children. Make sure they are doing okay. Sit down with your high school kids, find out what is going on- REALLY going on- in their lives. Reach out to your neighbors. If you are like me, you probably know three or four people on your block, and only remember one of their names. We need to be better neighbors, better parents, better friends, and better community members. Because we are the eyes and ears. If we paid attention, maybe we could slow down these events. If we used our voices, if we spoke up when something made us worry or didn’t seem right, maybe we could save some lives.
I’m not placing the blame on anyone for these things except for where it belongs- squarely on the shoulders of the people shooting these guns. Ultimately, they are responsible. But the things THEY have heard and the way they interpret that information matters. And the people surrounding them, the people who know them, who read what they write and hear what they say, they matter too. Do not be afraid to speak up.
If you fucking see something, SAY SOMETHING. No one is coming to save us.