When I heard about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkdale, Florida on the 14th, the first thing I thought was what a tragedy. All those young lives lost, that’s terrible. I prayed for the victims and their families. And it took place at school, where children are supposed to feel safe, we can’t stand for this. I did some research and I discovered that was the 17th school shooting in the short 45 days since we entered 2018. Compared to the rest of the world, that’s astronomically high. Some countries don’t have school shootings at all. So, why America?
My opinion can be encompassed in the phrase “Black Lives Matter.” Yes, the victims and the shooter were white, but there is a connection. And before you All Lives Matter proponents cry “reverse racism” with outrage, I challenge you to really think about why you’re saying that and hear me out.
America has a culture of violence and devalues human life. The US was founded on violence and racism. The colonialists raped and scalped Native Americans. The American government and powers that be enslaved Africans, killed and raped them, called them property, labeled them 3/5 of a person and they invented racism to justify their deeds.
We’re only a couple centuries removed from that abomination. That culture has been passed down from generation to generation in the few generations since then. We’ve made progress but we have a long way to go. Disagree that we have a long way to go? Then, as I remember him on this 6th anniversary of his tragic murder, how come Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman and he got off Scott free? Trayvon was armed with an Arizona drink and some Skittles. What about Philando Castile and all the other black unarmed shooting victims? How does this relate to the Florida shooting victims?
They’re all apart of the same oppressive system: American culture and government. Personally, I believe in Karma and Universal law. No man is an island is an axiom for a reason. Everything affects everything else. Whether you’re black, white, latino, Asian or whatever race, if you watch an unarmed black man get killed by police on repeat on CNN and the officer doesn’t go to jail, even if it’s subconsciously, you’re going to determine that his life wasn’t worth justice or maybe anything at all.
Killing people unjustly with no recompense may reinforce devaluing others’ lives the same way, even your own. That’s the reality we live in. If you devalue one life, you devalue us all. So when we say Black Lives Matter, we’re really also saying All Lives Matter, so there should be no argument. But, that’s not how things get portrayed in the media.
The media are extremely influential and shape our reality. Violent movies, video games, TV shows, music, posts on social media, all of them have their effects. And it all started when colonialists came to America and decided that having land and wealth was more important than people’s lives. Colonialists massacred Native Americans. They took African slaves.
That attitude continues to this day. We live in a society where, if you work for a corporation, you could get killed on the job and they would replace you within a week and carry on like nothing happened. Employees are cogs in a wheel, rats in a race, earning minimal wages, while the higher ups make millions, even billions. You see, in America, nothing is more important than the almighty dollar, even human beings.
Add to that easy access to guns and you have a playing field that’s fertile for the violence we see these days. School kids, Trayvon, Castile… who’s next? Me? You?
It’s all apart of the same system. We need to value each other as human beings. The responsibility rests with all of us. Banning “assault rifles,” which are really guns with pistol grips that can fire shots by consecutively pulling the trigger without reloading, including hand guns, will not solve the problem. We need to change the violent culture in America. At a micro level, murdering someone is a psychological break down where the killer doesn’t value his own or the victim’s life.
To fix this, we need to create equality in the justice system and in overall American society. If anybody unarmed gets killed by police, the officer should go to jail, even if the victim is black. By punishing murderers it will demonstrate that the value of human life is paramount. This should be common sense. But, alas, common sense is not common.
We also need to get rid of racism. That’s long overdue. We need to see ourselves in each other and be aware of the programming that the powers that be are forcing on us through the media and culture to maintain the status quo and keep them on top. We need to deconstruct that.
All it takes is a little compassion. All major religions agree that we should treat others how we want to be treated. If the Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz saw himself in those victims, he wouldn’t have shot them. The same goes for George Zimmerman murdering Trayvon Martin and Officer Yanez murdering Philando Castile. Those crimes could only happen in a society where people don’t value human life.