When evil comes close
A reflection on the school shooting
After the Las Vegas mass shooting, I felt sick. I could not imagine the unspeakable evil. Yet the shootings and events that followed didn't affect me as much. I came to expect bad news each time I flipped through TIME or watched the nightly news.
Then evil came close.
I walked into the second class of my busy Tuesday.
"Robin, is everything okay? I know you're from Western Kentucky. There was a shooting."
As my professor looked at me, I was confused and my heart rate momentarily increased as I thought of my dad, a professor at the local community college.
"There was a shooting at a school in Marshall County today."
I breathed out. This was not my county and this was not my school. Texts confirmed that my family, friends and everyone we know was okay. Yet it was the county over, a neighbor and part of the community. My friend could have been a substitute teacher there, and I grew up with people who attended that school. That night, when I watched the local news, the special coverage piece mentioned names of observers, names that I knew.
This was my home community, and evil was here again.
We had recently marked the 20th anniversary of a fatal school shooting that occurred at the high school in Paducah located five minutes from my house.
I cannot tell you what compels someone to walk into a crowd and open fire. To shoot their classmates. To commit unspeakable evil acts.
I can tell you that it's easy to be numb to news stories of another shooting. Yet when it's my community or my people, that numbness goes away. And for every shooting that happens in the world I know, there's another shooting that happens in someone else's world. Who am I to ignore or become numb to the pain of someone else, simply because I don't know where they are located or who they are?
What needs to change to protect the lives of school children, concert attendees or innocent bystanders? Some believe more people should carry guns. Others say government regulation and gun control needs to be stricter.
My opinion? It takes only minutes or even seconds for a bullet to kill or injure. An armed security guard or teacher wouldn't have necessarily saved lives in the minutes it took to kill 2 and injure 17 students. Our current laws surrounding gun control are clearly not working. Something must change. Will there ever be a loud enough wake-up call?
Evil doesn't fight evil. Regardless of what your political opinion is, we can all work to promote goodness in the world. Don't let the frequency of these events make you numb, because that pain is very real to someone.
Perhaps a nation that mourns the lost lives of the innocent is a nation that will finally change.
Photo by Tim Oun on Unsplash