My daily Instagram piece turned into a lengthy one, so I thought I’d post it here instead. In the wake of yesterday’s horrific shooting in Oregon, I felt obliged to...
A Letter from a Concerned American, Travel Writer and Human
My daily Instagram piece turned into a lengthy one, so I thought I’d post it here instead. In the wake of yesterday’s horrific shooting in Oregon, I felt obliged to write something bigger than just travel. While travel bloggers tend to steer clear of anything political, in fear it might hurt their image and social media stats, I couldn’t ignore the conversation that so desperately needs to be taking place everywhere. That means on blogs — particularly, American blogs. I’ve seen a lot in this great big world of ours, but what I’m witnessing right now in my very own country is absolutely maddening. It begs our attention, and more importantly, our action. And for the record, this is no longer a political issue; It’s a human one.
Dear Fellow Human Beings,
I realize this post might be a departure from my standard, daily dose of travel inspiration, but stay with me here a minute. I woke up this morning, brewed a pot of coffee and went to write something fun and cheery about life here in Colorado. As I browsed social media, I couldn’t ignore the hundreds of news articles on America’s most recent mass shooting — this time, a college campus in Oregon. Once again, we’re all heartbroken, speechless, and baffled at how this could “happen again.” It’s a routine of emotion we’re quite familiar with here in the U.S., and that, in and of itself, is a tragedy.
I grew up in the Columbine era and I’ll never forget that day and the conversations that followed. I was only 14 years old and it was the first time I’d heard of such an atrocity. My classmates and I couldn’t understand and I remember a particular feeling of tightness among us in the following months. Even in ninth grade, we understood it could have easily been us. Fast forward to today, October 2, 2015, and here we are, yet again, mourning the loss of ten more precious lives. Since Columbine, there have been 36 mass shootings in America. From Sandy Hook *Elementary*, to Virginia Tech, to the Aurora movie theatre shooting right here in the vey state I write from — this nation has seen its share of grief and suffering. Yet the apathy is more palpable today than ever.
The conversation typically goes like this:
Person A: “We have to do something about guns in this country!”
Person B: “We can’t do anything! Bad people are going to do bad things!”
I’m not sure what the solution is, America, but I can tell you that we won’t find it by sitting back and merely sending “condolences” to these ruined families. As an American traveller who first started out in Honduras, the “Murder Capital of the World” at the time, I’m amazed at how my own, highly developed country is often the one I fear. I’ve traveled solo through much of Central and South America, as well as parts of SE Asia and a little tiny bit of Africa, and I never once feared a mass shooting of any kind. Sure, there are plenty of dangers in the countries I’ve been lucky enough to visit, but I can assure you, these nations are scratching their heads at our most recent headline — “developed” or not.
I hiked with a dear friend earlier this week and we got a little “lost,” if you will. We ended up on the trail you see in the photo, conveniently named, “Columbine.” Oddly enough, I thought of Columbine that instant and throughout the rest of the day and night. Two days later, I woke up to the news in Oregon. When does it stop, America? I, for one, am outraged, exhausted and the opposite of apathetic. I am sick and tired of watching this on the news and love him or hate him, I feel for our President who has just had to publicly deliver his eleventh speech regarding mass shootings in this country. As an American and as a human being, I don’t want to offer just my condolences. I want to offer change and commitment to this seemingly “uncontrollable” gun violence. This is precisely the time to politicize the issue and if you’re not having the conversation now, you’re failing your country and the lives of hundreds of that have gone well before their time.
Talk about it, create an uproar, write your senators, share ideas on social media — just do something other than “pray” or “offer your condolences.” It’s not enough anymore and it only proves how numb we’ve become. We owe so much more to these victims, to this situation and to our country.
A concerned and heartbroken American citizen, Traveller and Human Being