We don’t feel safe

We live in a world where we don’t trust anyone.

Waking up and seeing all the alerts on my phone Sunday morning about 20 people shot dead in a gay nightclub was a sobering experience. We were on vacation and it made it hard to really enjoy the first big trip for our little family. As we were heading out the door for the beach, I saw the death toll had climbed to 50 and an already unbelievable event had multiplied itself into something I didn’t even want to think about.

We got to the beach and had as much fun as I could have there. Everyone seems to love it, but all I see is an opportunity for a sunburn and packing a couple hundred pounds of junk (and a baby) in the hot sun while being uncomfortably close to some “interesting” characters in very little clothes. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but there’s a lot of truth in there. I did enjoy the time with my family. It allowed me to escape the thoughts of the shooting for a while. It was after my first trip packing stuff back to the car that I thought about the shooting again.

On the way to the vehicle, I passed by a woman who was probably a little older than me. She had a little girl with her and was getting everything unloaded. She was still there when I walked back after loading the car. There she was with a cooler, a chair, a couple of bags, a stroller and a little girl staring at her with a pop in her hand. I asked her if she would like some help and she told me she was fine even though she obviously needed the help. I told her I was on my way to my wife and little girl and I didn’t mind, but she insisted to do it on her own and thanked me several times for offering the help.

That’s when it hit me: we don’t trust anyone.

Sometimes we are too prideful to accept help from other people, but I think this was an example a woman being afraid to accept my help in fear that I might hurt her or her daughter. If this were 30 years ago, maybe 20, I don’t think it would have been an issue.

Years and years of violence has brought us to this place where it’s better to avoid help from a stranger than to take the chance of getting hurt. I can remember riding up and down the streets of Hardburly on my bicycle as a child, but we may live in a world where my little girl won’t get the same opportunity.

Moments like these, where we have an opportunity to come together as a nation, dissipate quickly as they begin. Fingers start pointing before the hearts start healing. The questions we truly need to answer become secondary to liberal and conservative talking points. Are we ever going to learn?

I’m at the beach today and it seems like a microcosm of the world we live in. There are people beside me speaking another language that are close enough for me to see and hear, but we don’t dare talk to each other. There are miles and miles of coastline, riddled with little patches of people spaced equidistantly apart. It seems like we’ve all made a conscious decision to acknowledge each other and be here together, but we don’t get close.

Now is the time to get close. Start with the people you know and love the most, and then spread out. The only thing that drives out darkness is light. Spread your light to others and drive out the darkness. Don’t embrace it.

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