This is not a post about tragedy.
I’m afraid if I wrote down my thoughts on the tragedy that is violence in America, I’d simply be adding noise to an already endless stream.
Instead this post is about our response to tragedy.
I can’t speak to past generations, because I only know this one. But we seemingly are lost when it comes to appropriate responses to horrible situations. Our initial reaction appears to be hopping on social media and seeking out both things we agree with and disagree with in equal measure.
The statements we agree with get likes and positive comments.
The statements we disagree with get angry face reactions and negative comments.
And this is the way our collective society is responding to horrifying situations. Mind you, this isn’t about the true heroes that are on the ground responding in such situations – the first responders, the families, the pastors, the local governments and communities. These folks drop what they’re doing and help.
It’s the rest of us that hide behind a screen and bicker.
Some people respond with angry posts.
Some people respond with “thoughts and prayers.”
And then others simply respond to the “thoughts and prayers” with angry remarks about doing something other than praying.
Have we all gone mad?
Saying something like “thoughts and prayers” is an emotional response, just like anger is. Some people are moved anger, some are moved to fear, and some are moved to simply stop, pray, and empathize with those involved.
Why are we throwing stones at each other for the way we emotionally respond to tragedy?
Action has nothing to do with our emotional responses.
The angry person and the praying person have the same opportunity to take action through their votes. Yet they turn their social media tirades at each other instead of taking a step back and asking…
Is arguing on social media really the thing I should be doing right now?
The answer is no.
We’ve lost our damn collective minds when the default response to tragedy is to go pick fights on social media, or watch from the sidelines as they happen.
Go hug your significant other or your kids.
Call your local politicians.
Go help someone in your community that’s hurting.
Donate your money.
Donate your time.
But don’t donate your emotional energy to the least worthy place of all – the glowing screen.
Screens are facades for actions. We feel better because we typed some words on a screen and waited for people to react. They’re like to-do lists – they make us feel like we’re doing something even if we’re not.
When tragedy happens…
If you want to stop and pray, by all means stop and pray. And then go take action.
If you want to get angry at the situation, by all means get angry at the situation. And then go take action.
But don’t mistake social media for social change. The former requires nothing, while the latter requires involvement.
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
Gandhi didn’t tweet, or post, or argue online.
He acted. And his actions changed the world.