In 2012 I was living in Palau, in the equatorial pacific, for work. Palau is 17 hours ahead of Utah time, where I was from. I woke up that morning in my apartment on top of a hill and drove down to the courthouse where I worked. It was a hot day—every day is a hot day in Palau. I stepped into my office and signed into my computer to see the news of the day. It took a very long time for the satellite internet on the island to load the news.
But then it did.
An elementary school.
I remembered being in 9th grade when Columbine happened. Our science teacher was crying when she talked to us about it. "If you want to speak to a school counselor, you can," she said. I didn't. What was I supposed to say to a school counselor?
I remember sitting in that tropical island in 2012, feeling numb and wondering what I was supposed to write to the internet. I didn't feel like my 28-year-old self had any wisdom to share on this stupid website. Instead, I expressed condolences and posted some humorous links as a means of escape for anyone who needed it.
I've thought about that for years.
In 2016 I was in Lithuania when the Pulse shooting happened. I was traveling with my friend Adam. I remember being at a restaurant. We had just ordered two beers. Neither of us had really talked for several hours after waking up to the news. I told him that I didn't know what to say and I referenced that old Onion article from 9-11 about the woman who didn't know what else to do so she made an American flag cake. When I mentioned this, I started crying, and I pulled my sunglasses onto my face to try to mask my tears.
I wrote a post that day, more emboldened this time. I talked about how frustrated I was with gun enthusiasts who were allowing this to happen in our country. I received a lot of hate mail for it. People literally emailed me to tell me I deserved to be shot dead for this.
I should be killed for suggesting we should try to stop people who want to kill innocent people from getting assault rifles.
I had to deal with that for the remainder of 2016. It was hard.
I'm a bit older now. And a bit more calloused. I no longer have respect for any opinion that views the slaughter of children with nuance. I no longer care about your insane desire to own assault rifles, and I don't care what you think about me in response. Truly. I don't give any damns.
Actual children are dying. You are in the wrong if you aren't taking that seriously and doing everything you can to stop these murderers from the means to do it.
I won't be shamed for calling you out. Don't bother.
You are going to lose this fight. I'll make sure of that.
I don't give a flying damn about your threats to stop engaging in my content for telling you this is not negotiable.
The blood is on the hands of those who refuse to help us resolve this in good faith.
For the rest of you, please stay engaged.
Please make your voice heard.
Please don't give up.
~It Just Gets Stranger