Catastrophe

Being a teenager is all about being in the know. Francis Bacon said it best, plain and simple, "knowledge is power." To know is to understand and to act. It's what we're tasked with as teens, as people, and as the human race. We're capable of making decisions, having an impact and making a difference. It's up to each and every one of us to do our part. It's time to deal with the repercussions and move forward from this catastrophe.

Let me start this post with a disclaimer - it's concerning the tragic Newtown, CT school shooting massacre. As always, the opinions shared in this post are no one's but my own, respect that and I'll do the same for you. Feel free, and I encourage you to comment below and share your thoughts as well. What happened is one of the most horrific things I've ever heard. I woke up on Thursday morning to a USA Today push notification that there was a potential shooting with the Sandy Hook Elementary school. A couple of hours later, I found out 20 children had been killed along with 6 adults and a the shooter himself. I was absolutely devastated. The news was too much to handle. This couldn't be real life, something like this really couldn't have happened again. Watching CNN and seeing the interviews with some of the teachers and parents involved was too much to handle. The fact that while some parents were waiting for their children to come to them after the school was evacuated and they never came - that's when I lost it. I can't even fathom how that could feel. All it takes for me is to imagine never seeing my parents or siblings ever again - the thought brings me to uncontrollable tears. It shakes me down to the very fabric of my being. Then I imagine my life as a parent and how much I already love the kids I don't even have and how losing them would tear me apart. This heinous act of violence, this massacre, and this attack on innocent people will forever remain with me. This catastrophe, it will remain apart of each and every one of us forever. We are tasked with consoling those affected and sending our thoughts, prayers, hopes and condolences to those affected. We're tasked with picking up the pieces of a community torn apart and destroyed at its foundation. We're tasked with spreading the truth about the chaos and educating those who are ignorant about what has occurred today.

The media is both a gift and curse. It's a two-edged sword that has a tendency to stab us in the back more often than we'd like to admit. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the media (it's kind of like the majority of my life), but sometimes we need to connect as people not technology. Being on facebook, twitter, tumblr and watching the news today showed some amazing and awful things about people. The outpouring of love, heartache and empathy for the people devastated by the shooting has been heartwarming to read. People truly care, no matter where they are or who they are, they care - that's what matters most. From facebook friends, twitter trending topics and celebrity tweets (which I was really impressed with, almost every celebrity I follow tweeted their thoughts on the matter), and instagram popular posts - everyone was banding together to cry out. On the other hand was the social media apathy, those who didn't care and who's comments were inappropriate. Let me just say that people will react whatever they want to things, who's to say there is a right or wrong way. For me, I usually refrain from posting a status or tweeting, but there comes times when things like this happen where I have to share what I'm feeling - but we're tasked with being conscious and sensitive about what we say in times like these. On a different note, the media coverage of this "story" (in journalist's terms) has been horrendous. First and foremost, our society has become outrageous that people will stop and take videos and pictures rather than help people in need (uhm, Subway train incident). Secondly, the whole interviewing children was completely inappropriate, to the parents that allowed their children to speak - that's up to you, but the reporters prying for that inside scoop, not the time or place. Every news channel was rehashing the same story over and over - we got the story, bring us something new, give us a different perspective or get some more news. So many stations spent hours on random "specialists" speculating on motives and nonsensical psychoanalyzing - some things are just senseless, like these people running their mouths about something none of us know anything about. Incorrect facts coming up like the incorrect arrest of the brother, the connection of the murdered mother to the elementary school and comparison to other occurrences drew away from the gravity of the situation. News anchors with their meaningless spouting off of sayings "my heart goes out" - "i feel for those people" etc. - even president Obama shed tears today, show some emotion. I know it's inappropriate for your job, but who cares - this is bigger than your job, this is death. This is a catastrophe.

Now, the final thing that angered me so much about the media today was the portrayal of the killer. That sick individual was just that, a sick individual. The news described him as a young man and had people come psychoanalyze his life to find meaning for what he did. They all hesitated to call him what he was, a cold-blooded killer, a murderer, a taker of lives. He spilled blood, stole innocence, and broke people. I don't want to bring race into this but let's be real, media portrayals of crimes vary by race. He was a young white man, who most likely had mental health problems. First of all, that's not an excuse - you may be sick, but you need help. This mass murderer has been individualized, he's just a single person - not reflecting on his entire race as the media does with cases on black thugs, middle eastern terrorists, Mexican gangsters etc. Not all young white men are going to be persecuted because of this, this doesn't reflect on all of them - why then does the opposite happen when someone of color is involved in a crime? Why is not as much time spent conveying the story? Why is the crime any less of a crime if it happens to a person of color? We're all human, or do people forget? This divide on race, and the otherness of everyone who has a little pigment in their skin is inhumane. The idea of mental health as well to be always used as an explanation for white violence, if it's the actual reason fine - but why are other people portrayed as perpetually violent with no motives or rational. Don't make excuses, don't downplay what has happened, people have lost their lives - end of story.  Murder, that is to the take the life of another human being - is wrong, no matter what. It's the ultimate crime, nothing else compares to it. Killing another person is wrong - no matter the circumstance - you always have a choice. No one on this Earth has the right to take anyone's else life. No one has the authority to decide who lives and who dies. Death is final. There's no coming back from it, it's the end. That's what this killer has done to the families affected, brought an unjust end to their loved ones' lives. Catastrophe.

The last thing I'll say is, why does it take something bad to happen before people are called to arms. Why do people have to lose their lives or something drastic happen before people act? It shouldn't take things like this to make us think, to get us to move, and start a revolution. We're aware of what's going on in the world, and it's up to us to do something about it. Preventive measures can be taken, that is to educate people on mental health, and look for signs of people losing touch with reality. Getting people the help they need and reporting anything suspicious or threatening, we can all do something. Finally, let it be known that horrendous things like this happen every single day in other countries and our. A loss of life is horrible no matter where it happens, but we must be aware that America isn't the only land in the world. I say rest in peace to all those who die everyday, may their souls find serenity and absolution in the peace of God. Get in the know and get going - this is our catastrophe.

Being a teenager is all about knowing as much as possible. Some say ignorance is bliss, while others say ignorance is nothing more than that, ignorance. To know is to be aware. We're all burdened with the weight of knowledge, but that burdens also entails that you're obligated to do something with it. Educate others, protect and serve, and do your part to better the world we live in. Helen Keller is quoted, "Knowledge is love and light and vision." Only light can drive out darkness and bring a bright future from this dark and dismal catastrophe.

My blog post question for the day is ... what's your opinion on gun control laws? Personally, I think we have the police for a reason. In an ideal society, the police would be our protectors with physical force. I don't want to be responsible for something that can so easily end a life. Guns don't kill people, people kill people - but guns also give people the means to do so.

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