By: Hannah Bonanducci
CONTENT WARNING: Topics of gun violence, suicide, mental health and sexual assault will be discussed in this article.
“This isn’t normal.” It’s the line I’ve heard at the end of many impassioned speeches calling for change. It’s not normal that children are dying in schools due to gun violence. It’s not normal that more and more people are committing suicide before they even graduate high school. It’s not normal that one in every six women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape. I’m sure you could turn on the news and add whatever sentence you would like to this introduction.
Unfortunately, in my experience, this is normal. It’s not unusual that I will experience or be exposed to one of these situations in my lifetime. If anything, it’d be considered unusual if I didn’t experience any of these.
This, my friends, is the problem.
We’ve been trying to go about solving these problems as if they are surface wound issues that need minor fixes. This may have been true at the start, but we are too far past that stage to keep pursuing this quick fix we’re looking for. It’s time to discuss the root of the problem: America has become desensitized to overwhelming crises in the midst of a volatile political environment. We need to come back to the humans behind the problems we are facing. A deeper analysis of causes and long-term plans is needed if we are going to move forward as a nation.
Want to bring an end to gun violence? Look into the people committing the crimes and the victims left behind so that we can understand more than just what areas have high gun violence rates. Want to lower suicide rates? Look into why people are struggling so much all of a sudden and why they can’t get help. Want to stop sexual assault? Look into the mindsets and situations that lead to sexual assault and the way it impacts the lives of victims.
Part of the problem is the lack of urgency felt when addressing these issues. What once was a horrific tragedy such as Columbine has become a regular news headline. It’s no secret that America is currently in a rather volatile political environment, and with issues like the ones presented, it’s very easy for a humanitarian crisis to be turned into a political debate that’s thrown around by coworkers and family members.
We’ve lost sight of the humans and victims behind each issue. Mental health care affordability has become a “woke” debate. Conversations addressing increasing gun violence can’t be discussed without entering a rather volatile conversation about gun laws. The lives of human beings have very easily become a political opinion we hold.
We are humans. We are struggling. Our fellow humans need help.
To move forward, we must recognize our desensitization to these issues and work through them. When we start addressing an issue, we have to ask ourselves “Am I fighting for a political idea or for a person?” We need to actively focus on solutions that are going to improve the lives of people and take into serious consideration the impacts of the solutions we suggest.
Once we start a conversation this way, we can listen to people and actually hear what is going on and the impact it is having. What is the information we know? What are the statistics? What is the personal impact of this information? From there, we can move forward in creating solutions that are relevant to the problem and people, not the politics.
This isn’t to say that politics won’t get involved. Politics will get involved at some point. But if we’re going to make progress in changing things, we have to put the importance of a human over a political agenda. How can we get this person’s help?
I’m not saying that these are easy questions to ask or that they will have immediate, clear answers. The point is that we need to start looking past our desensitization and realize how big the problem is. We can no longer play the “this isn’t normal” card and just expect things to go back to normal. This is our normal now, and we need to take purposeful action if we’re going to change it.