Life Goes On

In the wake of tragedies, I always struggle with how life just continues as if nothing happened. In the recent weeks, our world has experienced multiple hurricanes that have caused devastation for thousands of people. The natural disasters took many lives and destroyed countless homes and communities. As the hurricanes hit, we thought about the victims when we received breaking news updates on our phones or when we received emails with ways to donate. Outside of these times, most of us continued with our days as usual – going to class, eating meals with friends, studying in the library, going out, etc. In the days and weeks following the hurricanes, the plight of those affected no longer crossed our minds. Life went back to ‘normal’. Meanwhile, the victims were just beginning to deal with the devastation from the hurricanes, which they’ll continue to deal with for months if not years. Is it fair for us to simply move on with our lives while thousands of people are struggling to rebuild their lives? No, it is not fair. But, at the same time, what can we actually do to help? Not everyone can drop everything and travel to Houston, Miami, Puerto Rico, or the Dominican Republic to provide aid on the ground. So is there any point to dwelling in sadness if we cannot or will not offer help?

Even more recently (earlier this week), the worst mass shooting in US history occurred, killing 59 people and injuring hundreds more. Many people were missing in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, causing their family and friends to worry frantically about their well-being. I cannot fathom what it would be like to anxiously wait next to the phone, convincing myself that any answer is better than not knowing. Anyone would agree this situation is devastating and would hopefully express sympathy towards those experiencing it. However, in the last couple days very few of us have taken the time to think about the people affected by or the causes behind the massacre. In the 48 hours since the shooting, my daily routine has not changed: I have carried on with my normal schedule, attending to my own needs and problems – which seem so miniscule and trivial in hindsight. What’s even more discouraging is that I’ve had only three conversations about the incident. Why do so few of us seem to be affected by this incident? Have we become numb to these events because they happen so often? Or do we not consider the events important because they may not directly affect us?

Regardless, people are dying because of these incidents. Dismissing an event as “just another shooting” that didn’t affect us perpetuates the future occurrence of such violent acts. The United States in the only developed country that has mass shootings occurring over and over again. We keep refusing to analyze what it is about our government that enables these shootings to continue happening. We keep refusing to address our devastating lack of gun control legislation. What tragic event will it take to finally pull us from our daily routines and force us to take action towards ending these massacres?

I’m scared to find out.