Since January 1st, 2013, or 1,735 days ago, there have been 1,516 mass shootings in the United States, including those in Las Vegas and Kansas yesterday. This data has been extrapolated by the Gun Violence Archive, to an average of one shooting every nine out of 10 days (qtd. in Morris, theguardian.com).
It baffles me that even with this kind of record, few people see the correlation between gun control, the Second Amendment, and these attacks. It also baffles me how the language we use to describe shootings differs, as does our collective response, depending on the race of the person who has committed the shooting.
However at the same time, it doesn’t surprise me when I remember a movie I recently watched in English class. Troy is a film adaptation of Homer’s Iliad, an epic that recounts the story behind, and the story of, the Trojan War. Personally, I found it misogynistic, unnecessarily violent, and kind of pointless. I recognize the value of learning from history, and preserving stories that have been structured in a particular way, or written by a particular person. Nevertheless, I fail to see why we recreate stories, whilst spending thousands of dollars on production and marketing, and getting famous actors to star in them, when they perpetrate cycles of inequality and injustice. Especially in a society where we claim to be on the road to equality, treating these kinds of movies as entertainment seems very backwards to me.
These two ideas: how we, as a society, react to mass shootings, and what we view to be entertainment, may not seem linked, but they are. Although they are seemingly unrelated topics, they’re part of a vicious cycle that causes many of us to normalize, dismiss, and/or act mainly indifferent towards systemic and everyday injustices. The fact that mass shootings, discrimination against and killings of LGBTQ+ people, police violence and many more tragedies even happen is partially caused by the media we are surrounded with, and the media with which we surround ourselves. The underlying messages that we receive through movies, books, and other media are a contributing factor to the part of our minds that is numbed to violence, numbed to hate, numbed to injustice. This causes us to act and react differently in our day to day lives, as well as to react to events like Las Vegas differently. The only way to break this cycle and really think is simple: awareness, analysis, education, action.
Awareness of the messages you receive and put out.
Awareness of your words, your actions, your reactions, and your feelings.
Awareness of others’ words, their actions, their reactions, and their feelings.
Awareness of events occurring in your community and around the world.
Analysis of everything you observe and experience. Analysis of everything.
Education, for ourselves and given to others, about everyone’s observations and experiences. Educate, share, analyse, compare.
Action against not only headline events, but their root causes and the small ripples that lead to them. Use your learning, your analysis and your observations and experiences.
Often we mistake absorption for awareness, an opinion for analysis, mutual agreement for education, and anonymous tweets for action. It’s time we starting being aware of, analysing, educating about and taking action against a cycle which will only harm us further. Not only that, but we need to replace it with this healthier version, for good.
“Mass Shootings in the U.S.” The New York Times, updated 2 Oct. 2017. Web. Accessed 2 Oct. 2017.
Morris, Sam and Guardian US interactive team. “1,516 mass shootings in 1,735 days: America’s gun crisis - in one chart.” The Guardian, 2 Oct. 2017. Web. Accessed 2 Oct. 2017.
Awareness, analysis, education, action model adapted from Rebekah Parker’s Environmental Activism presentation, at Pearson College UWC’s short course PSYL.
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Our thoughts are with those affected by the shooting in Las Vegas. We are reminded to also stand in solidarity with those experiencing tragedies throughout the world, from Rohingya Muslims fleeing from Myanmar, to victims of Hurricanes Irma and Marie, to police violence against Catalans. We hope that the leaders of countries affected will think, act and react with kindness, empathy and a sense of justice. We pledge to be mindful of events occurring, to be grateful for our safety, to share the stories of our fellow humans, and to do whatever we can to prevent further crises from happening.