If you were to accumulate the causes of death in America by using my Facebook news feed, you would find two primary origins: police brutality and gun violence. For the entire summer my Facebook news feed has been plagued with posts about lost family members, friends, or black bodies in general. Most of these lives lost were done so tragically. There have been days where ten consecutive posts were about death. There have been weeks where every day brought a new face gone too soon to my attention. I’ve shed tears for those close to me and for those I’ve never met, yet can sympathize with. From Chicago to Charleston to the world abroad and everything in between, death has taken its toll on an abundance of people. For me personally, I’ve never been so directly exposed to it before this summer.
Violence has become too internalized in our society and it’s become too easy to fall to violence when a conflict becomes challenging to resolve. It’s also easy to feel helpless and that nothing will ever be done to reduce such tragedies. I know I don’t have all the answers, but what I do know is that we cannot continue to talk about violence as if it occurs out of thin air. It’s simple math: if you add drugs and weapons into a community and take away trauma centers, after school programs, general funding, schools, and housing, you’re going to end up with chaos. While guns are clearly detrimental, it is unreasonable to expect our youth to put their guns down while not actively attempting to combat the other prominent issues. (Note: The aforementioned equation can consist of countless other variables and still lead to a similar result). Growing up in church, I constantly heard the old adage “If you continue to do the same things, you’ll get the same results”. During Do the Write Thing’s National Recognition Week, I spent an entire week listening to kids from around the country talk to their congressmen and senators about how violence plagues their communities. The kids have spoken. Now it’s our responsibility to develop a world that they can feel safe in. Or else, we take the risk of bringing our babies and young ones into a world full of the tragedy that we are constantly suffering. This isn’t to say that there isn’t light and beauty in the world that we live in, because there is. My view is simply that the darkness can be drastically reduced.