In The After Hours

Image/Newsweek

Image/Newsweek

Editor’s Note: This featured article was written by 17-year-old Yasmine Mabene from California, USA.

You always hear about things like this, but you never think it will happen close to you.
In the hours after it happened, I have a hard time wrapping my head around it. I can still see police outside the streets near my home. We are so accustomed to this world that we live in, where people can be gunned down during a time of worship. Yet, it is still so hard for me to wrap my head around. In the hours after it happened, I see people driving down the streets continuing on with their day, friends sitting outside restaurants laughing among themselves. In the hours after it happened, I talk to my friends and the subject soon changes to lighter topics such as vacation plans and how we are going to study for the next test. In the hours after it happened, as I sit in my seat at the movie theater, I cannot fathom how the minds of others are not racing like mine is right now, how they can watch the bullets fly across the screen and not feel a sinking pit in their stomachs, like the world isn’t falling apart right now because I know that it is.


But as I take more time to think, I realize the reason is quite clear. We have so deeply normalized gun violence in our country to the point where it is just another alert on our phones, just another reason to crouch on the floor, just another reason to get out of class. We raise our children to see this world as a shooting range. We know how to escape a military weapon before we can drive cars. We are aware of the fact that there have been people whose families have survived the Holocaust only to die in a shooting at a synagogue and we are okay with that. We are aware that there are kids whose last words are spoken at their schools and we are okay with that. We sing along to the songs of apathy at full blast and we are okay with that. It is ingrained in our minds that it is unnecessary to seek change because our current state is bearable. It is normal. It is deemed the price of freedom.

We are exposed and desensitized to violence day on and day end. We hear news of a shooting and calmly look the other way, all holding the same belief that that it will never happen to us, not to our family, not in our community...

Until one day it does...

And we act all the same.