• Monica Montanari

Stop Scrolling (Warning: Slightly Graphic)


Words will not suffice.

Absolutely nothing can explain the heartbreak and devastation felt by so many.

Last night, right before I went to sleep, I heard about the mass shooting in Las Vegas. I woke up this morning seeing more about it and thinking “Oh, well that sucks”. That’s pretty much the same thing I did when Houston flooded. And when September 11th happened. It’s something we’re all guilty of: we just scroll past it. Whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram, or in real life, we might take a minute to acknowledge tragedy- then just take another sip of coffee and another moment for granted. A moment that people like this would have given anything for.

58 people dead. 515 more hurt.

To some of us, they’re just the numbers affected by another tragic, senseless act of violence. But to someone out there, number 11 was their college roommate. Number 17 was their best friend. Number 32 was their boyfriend or girlfriend. Number 46 was their husband or wife. Number 51 was their brother or sister. Number 58 was their only child.


Their world is crashing down- and if we were in their shoes, ours would be too. But that person wasn’t MY classmate. MY best friend. MY significant other. MY brother or sister. So yeah, I feel bad, and I care; but I don’t really care. One half of my bed won’t remain empty for the rest of my life. One half of my heart won’t be forever shattered.

Sure, I had compassion. But until I had faces and names to put to the numbers, I had no empathy. That’s the problem here. I felt bad for them, but I couldn't feel for them. It was only then that I realized just how much empathy we lack as humans.

Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester. Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Route 91 in Las Vegas. These were recent moments in which people were celebrating life. And it’s tragedies like these that remind us of a few things:

 

Mental health is not something to be taken lightly. No sane person goes out and opens fire on a crowd of unsuspecting victims. But, unfortunately, due to the stigma surrounding mental health care, many of us who are affected never get the help we need- we just continue our Oscar-worthy performances of “life”- wearing masks to disguise our problems. There lies the problem: admitting you need help does not make you weak. It makes you stronger than you can imagine.

Live each moment as if it were your last. Not a single day in your life is guaranteed. And just as this case goes to show, sometimes we can’t see the signs of impending dangeruntil it’s already too late. There is nowhere in the world that you can go and be assured of your safety. Every breath you take is a gift. Even in the bad times and in the small moments, take time to appreciate the life you have been given- because in the blink of an eye, it really could be over.

We're all the same race: the human race. No matter how divided we may be by politics or background, there is one thing that every person on the planet has in common: they're human. We may have different views on things- heck, I might even hate your guts. But no matter what, when times get hard, we can come together to ease our pain.

 

This wasn't a shooting. It was a deliberate act of domestic terrorism. The shooter's positioning was opportune. His angle was perfectly calculated in a way that he could do the most damage. High enough to see the crowd, but not too high to impede accuracy. He must have gone there in advance to scope out his positioning. He must have booked it months and months in advance, as hotels during festivals fill up fast, and hotels closest to the festival book up even faster. Reports state that he modified at least one of his guns to be fully automatic- which he probably did far in advance. How far, we'll never know. We're left with so many questions- but mostly, why? It's a question that might not ever be answered, as the motive died with the shooter.

If the man shooting had any Middle Eastern heritage, we'd call this a terrorist attack. If he was black, it would be a terrorist attack. If he was Asian or Thai or anything else, we'd call this a terrorist attack- because that's what it is. But he's white. So it's a shooting. Sorry, but I'm pretty sure a "shooting" is a lot smaller than a mass murder of historic proportions. Side note: I think ISIS trying to claim responsibility for this attack is hilarious, but I'm not even going to get started on that.

 

Pray for Houston. Pray for Puerto Rico. Pray for Florida. Pray for Las Vegas. I hate to be the one to say this, but praying isn’t going to be enough. If you want change, you need to

#stopscrolling

and

#startstanding.

Your likes don't do anything. Your "pray for..." posts don't do anything. You know what does?

Love.

Not to be a hippie, but I truly believe that love is the solution to so many of our world's problems. If we stood up for love- and told more people how much they are valued by us, maybe they would be able to recognize and check their mental issues before they reach this point. If we told people how much we love them, we wouldn't be left with so many regrets when they're suddenly gone. If we just opened up our hearts a tiny bit to everyone we see, it would be contagious. That's your job.

That's what we do now. We reach out to the people who mean the most to us, and let them know that we appreciate them every day: that they make life worth living. We set aside our worldly problems and think about something besides ourselves. We hold doors, we smile more, we talk about people less, and we don't secretly hate on the person in the drive through in front of us. Because in the blink of an eye, that stranger next to you could be holding you in their arms when you draw your last breath.

Things like this put it all in perspective. Life is short, and we're all human. We all share the uncertainty of not knowing how much longer we've got. But every breath you take is another chance to make this life worth it. Sure. Life can suck sometimes. This is definitely one of those days. But, maybe, when you realize how limited your moments are on this Earth, you won't let them be wasted.

You're probably going to see this post, and continue on with your day. But if you took nothing else from this, or if you do nothing else today, tell someone you love them. Show them you care. You never know when it might be the last thing that person hears.