Content warning: mentions of gun violence
After every similarly-unconscionable act of violence, my response always includes a gnawing — and perhaps selfish — instinct: If it happened there, it can happen here. That sentiment feels especially prescient after last week.
It no longer surprises me when most Americans don’t react to this harbinger so strongly — not strongly enough to manifest some sort of defense mechanism in the form of a change of heart of a change in vote. I understand why they aren’t particularly moved when it happens in a Chicago suburb, on a subway line in Brooklyn or in a gay club in Orlando. I don’t share their apathy, but I understand it. It’s the same distance with which we witness violence in faraway countries, like Ukraine or Ethiopia: We cannot see ourselves in the victims. We rarely see them at all.
But almost every voter knows what it’s like to be in their 20s: to be young, dumb and full of rum; to be filled with optimism by the first sight of spring; to be consumed by daydreaming of commencement, summer, next year and your future. It all seems so naïve in the wake of reality. But it’s a naïveté everyone is owed in their youth — we criticize, desire, dismiss and, above all, cherish youth for its idealism. To have this taken away so suddenly, and so violently, is a devastating injustice against the country’s future. It’s a loss I hope every American can feel, for not long ago, they too only thought of what could and would be, without ever entertaining the possibility of an abrupt — and brutally unfair — demise.
The Spartan community lost students, friends, enemies, lovers, loved ones — and, along with the rest of us, they received a sobering reminder of the fragility of our spirit. With every tragedy, the victims of this loss of hope are called upon to hope even more, lest the bloodshed be in vain. At this point, it’s akin to someone struggling to choke a few more dollops out of an exhausted toothpaste tub. I’m sure the halfhearted expressions of moral support will begin any minute now, if they haven’t already. And with them will come the deluge of New York Times op-eds exclaiming the meaninglessness of such well-wishes. But these meek announcements of regret over our present were never meant to be a solution, anyway. It’s fodder for the lame duck. It’s peace of mind to those for whom change is incomprehensible. A numbing agent for a populace who’d rather give condolences every day — until it’s their child.
In addressing the Sandy Hook massacre, President Barack Obama called on us to “heal the brokenhearted, and bind up their wounds.” A decade later, and the wounds have yet to close.
Aman Khalid is an LSA Senior and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.