I woke up this morning after a peaceful night's sleep, browsed Facebook, and immediately my sunny disposition was invaded by bleak, ominous clouds that block the light source that usually warms my day.
Tom Petty's looming end touches on a personal level, having seen his masterful performance not long ago, and having been a fan for many years. As shocking as the news was, it has been easier to digest than the shock of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. So I put on some Heartbreakers for as long as I can stand and talk about what songs Paige and I may want to cover in his honor, not to move on from the tragedy in Vegas, but because that much violence in one place is difficult to comprehend. A beloved rock star at the age of 66 having a heart attack is at very least something that I can wrap my head around and begin to deal with.
Now, a day later, with a day off of work, there's nothing to distract me from actively digesting what has happened. By nature, I am a problem solver. I thrive on educating myself and coming up with comprehensive solutions to problems. For this one, I don't even know where to begin.
It's clear that our nation's leader is not equipped to manage massive tragedy. There is no deal to be made. Nobody to outdo. Nothing to build. What we need is comfort. We need to feel safe after a situation that seems to tell the country that nobody is safe, no matter how tough you are, no matter how many fighting styles you know, escape routes you plan, terrible things can and will happen. How do we feel safe?
1. Take care of each other. We are learning more about Stephen Paddock, a man, a human being. Why did his loved ones not see this coming? How could they not know? The only thing I can surmise is that he didn't have enough loved ones. He didn't have enough people close enough to him to know that he needed help. How does that happen? With 7.5 Billion people in the world and 323 Million people in this country, how can someone be so alone in their own thoughts, issues, or problems? There may be more to this story, but as of 10/3/17 he's the only one we know about (leaving conspiracy theories aside.) The larger our own personal circles of trust, the more likely we will all be safe. When we isolate others, we isolate ourselves, and that can lead to the demise of the safety of our world. The more we connect with each other beyond the surface, the less isolated we become, and the more comfort we receive, especially in our darkest times. This is know for sure.
2. Let's learn and discuss. Not only should we ask WHY this happened, but perhaps more importantly HOW this happened. What made it possible? "Gun Control" is a bad set of words for many Americans. Having loved ones with varying opinions on the matter makes me cautious about drawing hard lines in a public forum, or even personally. The issue is not "Do you like guns, Yes/No." The issue is that we're told that you're either for gun control or not. That's not how it works, and that's not how legislation happens. According to a Gallup Pole, 82% of Americans (republican and democrat) support legislation on Universal Background Checks. That means that most of us agree even though we're told we don't. Maybe we'll agree on more if we just talk about it directly, then maybe we'll vote about it. We all want a safer place to live, don't you agree?
3. Take care of our communities. The shooting in Vegas is not the only issue we need to address, and when we don't know what to do about one problem, solving another can give us a sense of focus and purpose in trying times. Hurricane Maria destroyed 80% of Puerto Rico's agricultural industry. Most of the population is still without power. 1 of the 68 hospitals on the island is fully functional. Puerto Rico needs electricity and water. These are Americans. Americans who are struggling to survive after a natural disaster. Americans who need helps. Americans who's triumphant resilience could be the grounding we all need to pull ourselves together when we don't know what to do or where to begin to solve problems that seem impossible to fix. Those are problems we CAN fix. If we are lost, let us begin there.