My week this summer is about getting up and out of the door early because my oldest daughter has Safety Town and my husband’s on early mornings at work.
It’s about making coffee and little girls’ breakfasts, and throwing hair into ponytails and making sure we’re wearing different clothes than yesterday.
This week is about enjoying summer vacation from school, while also still having a relatively full calendar.
And then—just like that—this week became about more.
Just like that this week became more about the largest mass shooting in U.S. history and less about not forgetting to make my kids brush their teeth before we leave at 8:30.
Yet life doesn’t stall or stop for those of us outside of the orbit of direct grief. During periods of intense grief in my own life, I was left stupefied at how the world keeps on going when my own tiny one was falling apart. I can’t even imagine how the loved ones of those who lost their lives could possibly be feeling, but I know that Orlando is a lot more to them than a circulating meme or sympathy on Twitter.
This isn’t to diminish the value that social media brings to our modern lifestyle. We can directly interact with politicians—or at least with their immediate staff—and we can create attention through the flick of our thumbs and a hashtag or two. Social media is powerful.
But as I buckle my kids into car seats, or kiss their foreheads after they fall, or feed them healthy foods that I know will land more on the floor beneath them than inside little bellies, I’m left feeling like I’m not doing enough to make sure that this world is a safe, loving place for them to live.
I want so much to raise my kids to see the value in people; to respect love and hearts and differences, and our multiple similarities.
I’m wanting to place my sadness at this continual string of grotesque violence and discrimination into real life action, for them, and for me, and for strangers who are hurting that I’ve never met. But I’m left wondering how I—a stay-at-home, relatively well off, white mom—can help. These kids deserve a better world than one where we just tweet kind thoughts.
We have to do better.
We have to do better than arguing and sharing sympathy on Twitter—even if this does get a conversation rolling.
We have to learn to talk.
Each time something horrific happens in our country, I’m left feeling both sad to be an American and proud that we’ve always believed so deeply in evolution as a culture.
It’s time to evolve.
It’s time to really dig into our communities and our reactions—and interactions—with this world we live in, and find out how we can help and promote positive change that extends beyond temporarily changing our profile picture on Facebook, or burying our heads in the sand while we subconsciously wait for news headlines to fall back into celebrity divorces and away from death.
When are we surrounded by a conversation that makes us uncomfortable? Do we hear others around us say awful things, and we’re silent rather than speaking up? Let’s speak up.
What can we physically do?
Being the change we want to see in this world isn’t enough—we have to speak up, act, and stand together to make a difference. We need to ask ourselves what we can do, if we can do more and then how we can do more.
We need to look in the mirror and also out at the world beyond our front doors. (I know—life can be busy, and it’s easy to get caught up in the motions of going through the day, and work, and doctor’s appointments, and zoo trips and paying bills.)
Let’s question the firmness of our opinions and values, because wise people know that we can change our minds.
We can look around, and read the news, and ask ourselves how we’ve gotten here, and then be reminded to stop placing blame, and to accept some—even a tiny bit—and then figure out how we can move forward, together, every day and not solely after a mass shooting.