Something was different this time.
Instead of the shock and increasing horror I usually feel when I wake up to the tweets unscrolling the latest mass shooting in America, I simply felt numb. The same numbness I feel when I read about large-scale violence halfway around the world, the car bombs that explode or the unending wars or the horrific beheadings. The indescribable feeling that you know it was people who died, with loved ones and coworkers and lives, but that it feels so far removed that it doesn’t affect you. That it doesn’t matter, life will go on.
Life does go on, but it does matter.
It matters that one of the major political parties’ presumed nominee for leader of the free world capitalized on the tragedy as an opportunity to point fingers, blame, and spread more vitriol mere hours after the event.
It matters that the governor of North Carolina, partly responsible for arguably the most hate-filled legislation passed in America in recent history, against the same vulnerable populations who were targeted in Orlando, offered his condolences to the Florida governor and “any assistance we as a state can provide.”
It matters that these headlines are so common now that my shell is hardened, that I can no longer truly feel sadness or empathy for those affected. Only resignation at a country so broken, with little hope for real change at the American level.
Those of you who follow what I write for Raleigh & Company know my column is called Positively Raleigh, and I chose that title purposefully. I want to write the good stories, about good people, and places, and events, to balance out the evil we see all too often.
It is those good stories that I hold on to in times like these. It is the day-to-day gratitude I feel for living in such an amazing community, to be able to walk the lush greenway, lie down and look up to see the sun streaming through the leaves. To be thankful for the City of Raleigh employees who take care of those spaces as though they were their own.
To watch my son play his first baseball game of the season and get a hit at his first at-bat. To be thankful for the coaches who tirelessly show up at every practice, to provide guidance and encouragement, to be wonderful role models on who a grown man should be.
To read Facebook posts by friends who are exploring our America on well-deserved vacations with family. To see graduation photos, and smiles, and hopes for the future.
I hope we can all find, and create, those good stories, even in times of unspeakable horror. I don’t want to be numb, I want to make a difference. For now, and for the future.
I hope you do too.