At one point on Sunday there were three active shooter events happening on my Twitter feed – the most recent was in Austin, Texas. That’s in addition to the ones from previous days in Indianapolis and Omaha. I was watching some news coverage last week or a reporter talking about one mass shooting, but getting it confused with a second mass shooting happening down the street at the same time.
I’m as tired as all of you are hearing about these – or, God forbid, being impacted by one of these. I’m even tired of the inevitable conversation afterwards about the Second Amendment and mental health and personal security. But that shouldn’t stop the conversation. We’re all tired from the past year and a half from Covid and, it seems, that many of us didn’t handle it well.
When restrictions were relaxed this month, you saw folks finally getting out of their homes and heading to restaurants and shops. Just this weekend, my wife and I went to a restaurant to watch the Royals game. It felt weird. But it felt good. However, that feeling of nervousness and panic about being near infected people, wearing a mask, and staying safe were even more accentuated when you factor all of these shootings in place.
I know that my chances of dying in a hail of bullets is about the same as me winning the lottery, but it doesn’t help the anxiety. We wait for the grown ups in charge to do something to help protect us. We wait for those around us to use their own personal responsibility. All the while, we try to navigate around the roadblocks others seem to set for us every 20 feet.
This column has no answers. Sorry if you got this far thinking that one would magically appear. Clearly it hasn’t appeared for anyone else, either. I do think that while we’re learning to navigate the world again, we’re going to need to learn to navigate the rules and laws around us. We need to find better ways to live rather than cower. We need to find better ways to be with others rather than isolate. We need to find better ways to protect those vulnerable around us rather than instigate and argue.
Maybe it starts with swallowing that zippy quip you thought up for that Facebook argument. Possibly it’s letting someone take that parking spot even after they cut in front of you to get it. Or who knows, it could even be a newspaper column asking for ideas.
One thing is for certain, the solutions to these problems – the shootings, the mental health of our angry and violent, and the ways we use guns – isn’t going to be resolved by the “grown ups.” We are the grown ups and it’s up to us.
All the while, as we head back out to restaurants and into the public, I’m unfortunately going to keep my head on a swivel because sometimes you’re the only grown up around.
(Get grown up with Chris Kamler on Twitter, where you can find him as @TheFakeNed)