By Ryan Strik

The time has come again when we must view the same headline on our televisions; when we are drawn to the same horrific images that have stained our eyes 18 times already in 2018 – a year struggling to get through its second month.

As we witness the names and faces of the fallen, and hear the harrowing stories of the survivors, we the spectators retreat into several reactive stages. For some, it is a state of sadness, and grief. For others, it is pure shock. However, many will project a temporary shield of emotion, rendering them immune to the true issue at hand. Our goal is to reject emotional immunity. We must become angered, and impassioned, not shocked, saddened, and passive. That anger must stem from knowing one young man has the capacity to take the lives of so much innocence, in so little time.

It is our job to harness the anger and sadness, and manufacture those feelings into the desire to do substantive good.

After these seemingly regular occurrences occur, there is one side in our society that shifts the moral argument. They say it can’t be a gun issue, because it is a mental health issue–as if a society cannot be faced with two problems. So instead, they offer only their thoughts before continuing their inaction. In the end, their words are hollow ones. They echo through the chambers of Congress, while simultaneously we see the manifestation of resolutions containing the overturning of stricter background checks, and stronger mental health programs. This is a mental health issue because these individuals do not have the proper access to the help they need. This is a gun issue because these individuals have too much access to tools necessary to cause immense destruction. Our job is not to pick and choose, but to tackle both problems, head on, for the betterment of society.

There is no better time to talk about these issues than the present. Perhaps the worst thing we can do is continue to do nothing and become spectators to the unraveling of our society. In the words of Florida Senator Marco Rubio (who represents all those in Parkland), “we cannot allow our fears and our disappointments to lead us into silence and into inaction. Because this country that God has blessed us with is worth fighting for.” Truly inspiring words, but meaningless when coupled with inaction.

We are currently our own worst enemy, at war with ourselves. It is a fight that will ultimately continue us down the road on which we have been traveling: one of death, carnage, and the turning of blinded eyes.

We as Americans and responsible members of the human race must find the will to turn thoughts into ideas and prayers into meaningful action. This is not a feat we can accomplish as societal factions show varying messages within society. In the words of the Dalai Lama, “in order to carry a positive action, we must develop here a positive vision.” We must recognize that we can live in a better society, where we value our rights granted in the second amendment and recognize their limits. A society where we value and care for those who struggle with complex mental health affairs. Most importantly, a society where human life is valued above all else.

We must recognize that it doesn’t have to be this way.

We don’t need to live our lives under the dominion of fear.