Turning Fear & Loathing in America to Empathy

America's gun violence epidemic

Sam Chavez
Sam Chavez

Table of Contents

The pandemic end is near! The United States is having one of the most successful vaccine efforts in the world. This weekend, we hit the 50% mark of Americans vaccinated. Thatโ€™s huge news and thanks, in part, to a competent government under the helm of President Biden.

But as America opens back up again, more of our wounds are being exposed. Last week, a man walked into a Fed Ex and killed 8 people. That was the 45th mass shooting since March 15th. In 30 days! 45 mass shootings! After that, we saw a day with 3 mass shootings. Thatโ€™s not even counting the black men, women, and children who are being shot by the police on what seems like a daily basis (itโ€™s actually 53 this year; thatโ€™s one every other day). Not to mention the violence against the Asian community. We have seen videos of grandmaโ€™s being pushed, beaten, and shoved to the ground. An old woman who is just living her life getting assaulted simply because of the skin color she was born into.

Todayโ€™s post is going to be a little bit different. Iโ€™ve been hesitant to write about gun violence whether from the police or from mass shootings by mostly white men. I donโ€™t have the answers. Why should I write about something that I canโ€™t solve? But itโ€™s important that we all raise our voices on these issues because they will only continue if we do not.

Finding the Rot Cause

We at Knurdology (aka me...itโ€™s just me) try not to give fuel to โ€œthe other guy.โ€ But this increased and more blatant violence is a direct result of Donald Trumpโ€™s presidency.

I know many liberals (especially white liberals) want to be thankful that he is gone and not think about him, and we should be, but we need to recognize pandora's box that he opened up and the consequences that have and will follow. Hate, fear, and violence take time to manifest but they sit there brewing under the surface.

We have seen so many videos of violence against black people that many of us are desensitized, but for Black people, it is a constant cycle of trauma. Another one hit me last week, watching an army vet in his uniform afraid to get out of his car in fear that the white cop might murder him. Think about that. His American flag patch is clearly visible in the bodycam video as the police officer threatens him. โ€œYou should beโ€ are the words spoken by a man who knows he can do what he wants with impunity. This is where we are as a nation. Thereโ€™s no getting around it.

While I am grateful for the Derek Chauvin verdict, I am not satisfied. One police officer was held accountable, but the system needs drastic reforming so that it becomes a force that protects Americans from harm and not to over-police specific communities. Our communities need support, not harassment.

Trump stoked the fear (by mostly white Americans) of the unknown in a rapidly changing world. As I wrote last week, half of our country thinks that we are changing too fast. I get that, our society is rewriting rules as more diverse voices are able to speak up. The Me Too movement has put a voice against misogyny and sexual harassment in all corners of our society. Black Lives Matter has exposed the racism embedded into the system of policing in America (among many other racist systems). Trans women and men are speaking up and demanding that they live their life as who they are. That must be scary for people who have lived their whole life as the โ€œdefault American.โ€ There is a fear of fitting in within this changing world. Do white Americans lose out if we truly move to a multiracial democracy? Of course, the answer is no. Life is not a zero-sum game as โ€œthe other guyโ€ preached, but an opportunity for all of us to live a better life with more privileges due to a government that cares for its citizens.

Hate Affects Us All

But, if we do not solve these problems, they will continue to fester and weaken our society. This is what many Americans do not yet understand, our country is sick. A healthy country does not experience the death, hate, and violence that our country endures on a daily basis. Even if this violence is not intended for you or people like you, it affects us all. Because this hate and division mean that we are not solving the other problems that our country must face. Heather McGhee wrote an incredible book called The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together that speaks to this very issue.

Our country's hubris is causing our decay. I donโ€™t have the answers and I wonโ€™t pretend to. But I know that we can talk with each other, empathize with those that are different, and build back slowly with a coalition of empathy. That sounds cheesy, but it's a start.

Joe Biden was right when he said we are in the battle for the soul of our nation.

So I leave you with one question: What country do you want as we emerge from the pandemic? A nation of hate, division, and subjugation or one of love, innovation, and equity?

Every human in this country can help make that choice.

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Sam Chavez

Sam is a writer, strategist, and curious human. She founded the roots of change agency in 2020. Sam is a queer, white, LatinX activist whoโ€™s passionate about a livable planet & equitable societies.


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