Perhaps it’s a bit late to be reading about the Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting. Nothing new can have developed by now. People have died, others have been injured, and still more have suffered — why bother to remind us all of it again? It seems that the media just doesn’t want to let us forget about it.
But maybe that’s the way it should be. True, it’s useless to continuously expose oneself to negative information day in and day out, but at the same time, tweeting about these concerns for a day or two and then pretending they never happened is not a way to solve problems. And no, individuals cannot singlehandedly solve such problems. But they can take the time to consider them and to educate themselves.
Obviously, outlawing guns simply puts guns into outlaws’ hands. The question is not whether guns are in possession, but who is in possession of the gun. Where was he from? Who were his parents? Did his friends care about him? Answering these concerns involves each one of us, no matter how far from Las Vegas we are.
One might be surprised to learn how much impact an individual can have on society. But this kind of impact doesn’t necessarily happen all at once, in a great act of heroism – or, dare we say it, an impressive Facebook status, the kind of Facebook status that lingers in the mind for decades, the one that changes the way thousands live their lives — oh, wait. Those kinds of statuses don’t exist. We as a community are never going to change the way people think and act by overtly telling them what to do. That much is clear. But change occurs in slow steps. Recall that humans often abide by a simple rule — religiously and sometimes involuntarily — “monkey see, monkey do.”
Simple acts of kindness — not just opening the door for someone or saying “hi” to more people, but in general focusing on others and paying them one’s full attention during a conversation — can over time drastically alter the general warmth in a community. These are just examples, but they illustrate the kind of response Americans need at a time like this — because after all, though most of us don’t know anyone involved in the Las Vegas shooting, we all suffer knowing that we live in a country where mass shootings happen regularly.
But what the heck kind of response can we possibly mean? We’re supposed to believe that smiling at more people can be a cure-all? Not exactly. But as a nation that is ailing, we ought to do what the human body itself does when it is wounded — we need to heal.
That is, the best answer to an attack on our people — whether this attack comes from the outside or from the inside — will always be one that is applied with the greatest care and warmest concern. The single most crucial element of any well-established society is a populace that understands and values its own stability. Stability is not garnered by arguing for the thousandth time about gun laws. It is not found by retweeting memes. And sadly, it is not even encouraged by posting compelling, educational videos on Facebook. It comes from putting an effort into the people around oneself, in sharing a quick chat while waiting in line rather than addressing one’s Instagram followers.
There are solutions to these problems. Finding them begins with reconnecting to the incidental world — the one that is not hand-selected for us and delivered perfectly, predictably at the click of a button. Believe it or not, just like a room becomes messy when it is neglected and things are allowed to fall where they may, a society is ruined when its individuals forget to put effort into it. We now take for granted things that generations before us had to work for by laboring together.
The next time it comes to mind to whip out a phone, one would do best to consider whether this will merely serve as an excuse not to get to know others around them better, or not to share thoughts with one’s surrounding friends and family. Small though these daily friendly interactions may seem, they form the basis of our culture. Like the atom, they each are tiny, but they add up to build important structures. As for both, we cannot live without them. This much is clear.
So in the future, perhaps belated articles rehashing old news will, rather than bringing to mind dreadful thoughts, serve a good purpose by urging readers to recall, to put into perspective, to consider themselves and to be reminded of their place in this world. It can be a good one if we all keep trying, every single one of us.