On my twentieth birthday, a young man ran into the main campus library and blew his brains out. I lived right across the street. Sunday, a man walked into a church 45 miles south of me and slaughtered 26 people. I wanted to be angry; I wanted to be sad. I wanted to feel something, and yet...I’m just left unsurprised. After Pulse, Charleston, and Dallas, I expect this.
My proximity to the location doesn’t really matter. I’m sure a morbid game of Six Degrees of Trigger Separation could be played by every person in this country. How close have we been to death? How close have we been to being in that congregation, or at that concert, or in the sights of a killer? We mourn for a few news cycles. We run stories about the shooter and his family. We scrutinize the details of the day. We ask how this could happen in a year in which it’s already happened 376 other times. We watch analysts and pundits debate every point except the one that matters. We hold vigils instead of being vigilant about preventing another tragedy. It doesn’t have to happen but it does and it will.
For some reason prevention is deemed more problematic than the problem. We squeeze a week’s worth of inane coverage about the killer’s girlfriend, his neighbor, and that one cashier he met at Ikea into sound bites and poorly acted expressions of shock. We want to drown in details to uncover some reason this could have happened instead of limiting the possibility of it happening again. We obsess over theories as if it was a Shonda Rhimes show. We watch images of the Stars & Stripes flying in the background to remind us that our communities are stronger than these tragedies. Strength is great. But when are we going to be smarter? Kinder? Who else has to die for things to change? Who else has to lose children, partners, friends, teachers, community leaders, and neighbors for us to care enough to do something other than think and share Facebook posts? Praying might do a lot for some people, but prayers aren’t bulletproof.
As a pastor’s kid, I grew up in churches. In Texas, there are churches on nearly every street corner. A good number of my weddings are in them. There is no space safe from a possible mass shooting. Elementary schools, military bases, churches, concerts, streets, nightclubs: it can and will happen everywhere. Should active shooter training be something wedding planners or photographers or caterers consider? Teachers already do. Why not us? Since our leaders can’t be bothered to prevent them, maybe all we can do is prepare for them.
If every time you got over a cold you got a new one, how long would it take before a visit to the doctor? It’s only been a little over a month since the Las Vegas shooting dominated the headlines. How long before the next one? How long before we decide it’s the last?
Jordan A. Maney is a San Antonio-based wedding planner and owner of All The Days Event Co. She she started her company as a planning haven for all the couples the industry chooses to ignore. Instead of just making a brand, she's building a community. Find more of her sass, humor, and Southern hospitality at allthedaysweddings.com.