"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."
Although this quote was originally used in a motivational speech, I think it applies to America's perspective today. We are treating the shootings happening in this country as news stories and policy discussions, rather than what they are: horrific tragedies. Whenever I see a shooting in the news, all I see is an endless stream of comments resembling pointless YouTube discussions on every respectable news site and on my Facebook newsfeed.
With an all-time record set with 14 mass shootings and 93 victims in 2012, according to the Washington Post's "U.S. mass shootings in 2012," it's hard not to dwell on the bleak. Some blame guns. Others blame gun violence in movies. Others argue it's the person, not the gun. Others go meta and say it's the media's coverage (I'm going even more meta by talking about the media talking about covering these shootings).
But have you taken more time to look up how the victims are doing today? I certainly didn't know that Clackamas, a town less than 30 minutes from me, had set up a victims' fund of $266,000 (as of Jan. 13) more than I knew that Anthony Lane of The New Yorker was tying his reviews of Gangster Squad and Jack Reacher to the recent gun violence.
I don't think the ever-growing number of discussions analyzing the causes of shootings are going to make a marginal difference at this point. We should reconcile ourselves with the fact that only time travel can really answer our questions and that we will never be able to ask every deceased shooter: Why did you commit such a heinous crime? Was it because you really wanted to test the limits of your constitutional right to own a gun? Was it because, in entertainment, you had seen too many guns? Was it because there were a lack of people at the scene defending themselves with guns? Was it because you had a history of undiagnosed mental illness?
In the end, we all just want the same thing: for everything to just end already. I think we should be doing the opposite of Dyer's quote. I'm not going to change how I look at things -- it isn't going to help. We need to look at these tragedies as exactly what they are: situations that took away human lives.
Cindy Ann Yuille and Steven Forsyth, two people who hurried along with their daily lives in a mall, perished on December 11th. On December 14th, three days after the Clackamas shooting and two days after I began to see the faces of those two people on the news, I wondered if this would happen again within the next month.
I was psychic. Even as I type this, Houston's population is wide-eyed at the news of a shooting in their area. I don't want to be predicting any more.
If I try to change my perspective on why this happened, I'm worried that I will stop thinking of these victims as people, and will start thinking of them as news stories or as a statistic. I'll stop shedding tears every time I read People's coverage of the Newtown victims and think about each and every one of their lives.
So, movers and shakers, good luck to you about how you take these debates. I'll be the girl on the sidelines, reading the news about the gun control policies you are trying to push through, and then bowing my head in prayer for twice that amount of time for those who won't be around to see them take effect.