Teachers are using the hashtag #ArmMeWith to propose other resources they would rather be armed with, such as more funding, additional school counselors and smaller class sizes — not the ability to carry guns in school https://t.co/kNaPViNb94 pic.twitter.com/qWy6BSJYg5
— CNN (@CNN) February 25, 2018
I don’t know if there has ever been a point in history where watching national or international news couldn’t be described as depressing.
That isn’t to say that the world is a terrible and awful place—but terrible and awful things do happen in it all the damn time. And lately, I’ve found myself more deeply affected by it than usual.
Outrage and desire for change are not unknown emotions for me. But these days, a new emotion has been creeping up: hopelessness.
I have a few reasons for feeling this way, but it would take me all day to list them. For time’s sake, I’m only going to focus on one: the most recent shooting to occur in the United States.
It was frustrating the moment I first heard the news, because the way I see it, many countries have proven that one surefire way to avoid mass shootings is by enforcing stricter gun laws. Yet, the United States simply refuses to do it. And because of that, people are still being murdered. Children are still being murdered.
And I don’t understand.
I don’t understand why this country seems intent on engaging in a war with its own people. I don’t understand why the right to bear arms matters more than the right to live.
I don’t understand, and I’m beginning to lose hope that change will ever come.
You might disagree with my view on this matter, but I’m not necessarily asking for you to agree with me. I’m only trying to explain where this feeling of hopelessness comes from.
I recently watched a video posted to Facebook that featured a woman talking about this tragedy. In the beginning of the video, the woman echoes my own hopeless feelings, making such statements as, “Congress will do nothing to change this bloody course.” Yet, as the video continues, the sentiment begins to take a turn toward the optimistic, ending with, “Congress will not change, so we must change Congress.”
My initial reaction to this video was something akin to: “Well, I agree with the first part, but the last part isn’t going to happen.”
How long has this been going on? How many men, women, and children have already lost their lives, and received nothing but thoughts and prayers in return?
We have become so accustomed to this endless cycle—of hearing about shootings, getting upset, demanding action, and then forgetting about it when action doesn’t come.
Will we ever actually do anything different?
But the more I thought about this video (and trust me, it stuck with me), the more I realized that there was no other way that it could end but on a note of hope. And I don’t simply mean that in the sense that the video couldn’t gain traction on social media if it wasn’t hopeful: I mean it wouldn’t have served any purpose if it wasn’t hopeful.
If it ended where my recent thoughts have been ending—with this idea that change will never happen—then it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy: change would never happen. Nobody would be fighting. Because people don’t fight for things that they don’t imagine will ever happen. And if people aren’t fighting, then change never happens.
No, if there is any possibility of change in this world, it comes only from hope.
If you tell people that there’s a chance, then you open their minds to the possibility that you may be right. You make them see what’s possible. You give them a reason to want to fight.
And maybe the steps we take are small, but they are still steps. Maybe the world isn’t made right in one day. Maybe there are still casualties along the way, and maybe that is a terrible tragedy. But an even worse tragedy would be to allow it to keep happening—to send a message to the world that this is okay. To say, “We accept this.”
Because I don’t accept this. I can’t live with this. And from what I’ve seen in my community, I’m not alone in this.
It’s easy to lose hope in times like this. It’s easy when you’re throwing yourself into an issue, full-force, motivated for change, and frustrated that you’re not seeing it. It’s easy when you’re distanced from the issue, and you simply don’t understand why this is happening.
It’s easy—but it’s also dangerous.
We need hope. Hope motivates action, and action motivates change. Sometimes, that change comes slowly but the small victories are still victories. Even when nothing feels like it’s being accomplished, keeping the fight going is a victory. When we allow the fight to die, that is when the goal dies as well.
So whenever we start feeling hopeless, remember this: we are not alone. Even when it feels like we are surrounded by people who don’t understand, who aren’t listening, there are always going to be those who do understand. Maybe they’re afraid to speak up or haven’t found the courage to say something. But if we keep talking, if we keep fighting, we will find these people and encourage them to join us.
And together, we will be heard. We will create change.
Author: Ciara Hall
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman