Yesterday, one of my Texas friends messaged me that she was sorry about what had happened in Oregon and that she hoped my family was safe. I immediately felt nauseous and, with shaking hands, Googled to find out what she was talking about. I was horrified to find that there was a mass shooting in Roseburg, Oregon, at a community college and that there were many deaths and injuries. Most of my friends and family live about three hours north of Roseburg, and no one that I knew was involved. I confirmed by texting everyone, just to be sure. Once I confirmed that everyone I knew was safe, I then turned CNN on my TV and streamed local news on my iPad to watch the event unfolding. My reaction surprised even myself, I sat in my living room, almost 3,000 miles away, binge watching coverage and breaking down in tears all afternoon.
Roseburg is a pretty small town, about 20,000, in southern Oregon. It was a logging town and is now transitioning to branch out in their livelihoods. I guess it’s the feeling of shock about this happening in that community. Roseburg is just a rural, quiet town. Students were just trying to go to class. As a former teacher, anything involving a school shakes me. I automatically put myself into the classrooms, and see a movie of this happening in my own classroom. That movie plays over and over.
Later that afternoon, I went on Facebook to see if there was more information. Huge mistake. I was disgusted by people’s reactions on social media. A natural reaction to a disaster of any kind is wanting to problem-solve to prevent the same event happening again. This is all part of how we process the event. However. The first 911 call came from the college in Roseburg at 10:38am, and within ONE HOUR, people were taking to social media with political platforms. Politics? What? Students were still be evacuated and the wounded on their way to a hospital when people popped up with angry, political stances.
At Umpqua Community College, everyone in attendance sheltered in place or escaped by going to alternate location on campus. When the police came to clear the scene, they evacuated every room and then went through the task of ensuring there wasn’t a second shooter hiding among the students. This means that each person evacuates and then has to be individually cleared, before getting bussed to the nearby fairgrounds, to be picked up by a friend or family member. Most people do not have identification with them, so families do not know if their student is awaiting clearance at the college or is at a hospital or the worst has happened.
This is what the people of Roseburg are dealing with, waiting to see if their loved ones walk off the damn bus, hoping and praying they do. And people react with politics? Just stop. Just take a breath and do something human. Hug your babies, go for a walk, call your mom, have a glass of wine, donate blood, pet your dog, truly anything other than use this horrific situation as a soapbox for a political issue. Guess what? I couldn’t care less what my friends think about politics, I don’t care who they voted for and what their stance is on current topics. I didn’t care yesterday, I certainly don’t care today, and I won’t care tomorrow.
Because for one goddamn day, we should just breath and send a little bit of love out in the world. Just one day. Just 24 hours. Let the sun set for one day so those who had someone they love shot to death at school, can grieve. Let our planet turn just a little bit without polarizing their deaths. All they want is to have one thing go differently so their family member would just walk off that bus at the fairgrounds. That somehow there was a mistake, and it wasn’t their loved one.
Just breath. There are hundreds of humans who lost their world yesterday. Thousands of people who now lost the ability to feel safe. Just take a deep breath and consider them for a hot second before you jump on a bandwagon and blast it all over social media. Be a human first, and voter second.
Today, do something human; go love someone, help someone, make someone smile, get outside, linger in the October sun, call someone, make a new connection, make one person’s day better.