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Saying ‘sorry’ is not enough

| Monday, April 9, 2018

In the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, I watched endless video clips and read numerous articles about the tragedy. Headlines and thumbnails grabbed my attention, inviting me in to receive the latest updates and to see how these students were taking action against gun violence. It was inspiring and encouraging to see people online, on TV or during marches become passionate about this issue.

A few weeks later, one of my professors began to share with the class that he believes “thoughts and prayers” are not enough. This topic was irrelevant to class discussion or materials, but he continued to talk about gun violence in America and would pause every few sentences to gauge our reactions. Silence saturated the room. Faces were blank. No one bothered to even agree with or dispute my professor’s beliefs.

Upon reflecting on the weeks following the Florida school shooting, I realized that I did not once have a conversation with my peers or family members about it. I was only receiving information from the media and having internal debates and dialogue with myself. If a conversation with others did happen, it was usually along the lines of meek comments such as “It’s just so sad,” with reactions consisting of “Yeah, I know…”

So when did actually talking about guns and gun violence become so taboo?

I applaud those who have taken to a broader audience to voice their concerns, opinions and beliefs. That is the kind of action that should be taken if people hope for change to occur. However, I am disappointed in how entertaining respectful discussion with my friends is extremely uncommon. After all, it seems as if conversation and voicing our thoughts with others is how change is made and society progresses. If we are unwilling to do this, how can we ever expect gun violence to cease and laws to change?

At a school like Notre Dame, we should feel comfortable sharing our beliefs with our friends and even those we do not know in a classroom setting. My professor made several attempts to have his students respond to his claims with some kind of reaction. He proposed that saying “sorry” is not enough so I inquired what would be enough. A boy from across the room quipped, “Saying you’re really sorry.” Many of my classmates laughed. These are the snarky and immature comments that can be avoided if we make an effort to talk with others about the presence of guns in 21st century America. Not on social media, but in person. Face to face. With actual words being spoken and our ears open to listen.

So make an effort to take up a real-life conversation about the role of guns in our society. Although I am ironically contributing to the overflow of discourse of gun violence in the media, this article does not suffice. What will suffice is sharing with others what you think, having mature conversations with your peers and embracing that we are responsible for educating ourselves and others through dialogue.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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