My Voice In Light of Tragedies

I am not someone who likes being openly political about my thoughts on the world, but it has come to the point where I think my voice needs to be heard whether what I am saying is considered political or not. Whether we as a country are able to recognize it or not, public places like school, synagogues, night clubs, and concerts are increasingly unsafe. Ever since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, I have been increasingly aware of this. In fact, the week of this tragedy, I met some of the survivors of the shooting in Orlando at BBYO’s International Convention. Many of the students killed in the shooting happened to be Jewish and maybe this was not a blatant act of anti-Semitism, but it certainly was no accident on the shooter’s part with a history of anti-Semitic views. As a student accepted in the early decision process, I also vividly remember receiving an email from Skidmore giving its condolences since one of the victims of the shooting was an alumni’s daughter. I was stunned and surprised at how small my interconnected world seemed to be. From speakers about this tragedy, to survivors in attendance at convention, to a connection to Skidmore.

I very quickly realized that if it was in a different place any of those girls whose lives came to end could have been me. No one should have the power or right to decide who gets to live or die. Not any one person should be able to decide this, but in so many cases a shooter does end up deciding this. Furthermore, it needs to be understood that we as a society cannot blame mental illness for mass shootings. There is so much more to it and we cannot continue to stigmatize a whole group of people that have mental health diagnoses just because a tragedy occurred. Also, we cannot blame immigrants or illegal aliens because more often than not these shootings are led by white men who are American citizens. We as a society need to stop blaming any one group or any one reason for these tragedies. Let’s take it into our own hands now, because it is all of society’s responsibility to bring about change, it is not any one group’s responsibility like the government or individual institutions but all of us.

As a Jewish college student, I am devastated by the tragedy that occurred at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. I am enraged that a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor’s life had to end because of anti-semitism after all. I am heartbroken for all of the victims and their families. But even more than that I am upset that acts of hate like this continue to happen in this country. It’s wrong and absurd that public places even sacred places like a Synagogue do not seem to be safe anymore. No one should have to fear living their life and going to school or a place of worship.

The climate and atmosphere have changed, 40 years ago it might have been safe to walk the streets in this country alone as a young woman but now it certainly is not. Just as I walk around at night, it occurs to me how much we as young women have to worry about. Public places should not be a place where we fear our lives and the streets should not be a place where we fear sexual assault. I am glad that movements have come out of these tragedies like school walk outs across the country, marches, and such. But I think more has to be done before another shooting or Larry Nassar scandal occurs. I mean seriously, how was Larry Nassar employed at Michigan State University for as long as he was. Something has to be done so that no one is dying in another mass shooting or being taken advantage of by yet another man in power.

Always remember no matter your age, you have a say about what happens in this country. Please call your legislation or express yourself in any way you feel is right for you to bring awareness and change about.