Thomas Fiffer doesn’t want to read your impassioned Facebook posts about the latest mass shooting in San Bernardino.
It’s happened again.
This time in San Bernardino, California.
Fourteen people are dead, and 17 are wounded.
Another mass shooting.
Followed by another mass outpouring of mass outrage.
Of people praying for the victims’ families, wringing their hands, preaching to the converted on Facebook, rounding up the usual articles to tweet, and wondering when the insanity will stop.
This mass shooting, and the next and the next and the next will be followed by the mass outpouring of outrage and then by nothing—no change at all.
It won’t stop because you pray, though prayers serve an important purpose and offer a measure of sympathy and solace.
It won’t stop because you wring your hands and condemn all the perpetrators, all the violent video games you believe may influence violence, all the politicians for their inaction, all the police and other professionals who missed the signs, and any other cause for the incident that you can think of.
It won’t stop because you write a heartfelt, “Enough is enough” post and share it on Facebook and get 127 likes and piss off your friends who support the right to bear arms and don’t want their guns taken away.
It won’t stop because you tweet pithy statements or lengthy articles about the why mass shootings continue to occur with such alarming regularity.
It won’t stop because you call the shooters “domestic terrorists.”
And it won’t stop because you vow to “do something” about it, but let that something slide when the 24-hour news cycle is over and the next big story about something else dominates your newsfeed.
I’m sorry to tell you this, but none of the customary things that virtually all of us do in the wake of a mass shooting have any impact at all on addressing the problem.
So please, don’t waste your time making yourself feel better, because that’s what all the handwringing does.
Don’t waste your time pretending we’re all united in the effort to stop the senseless violence of mass shootings, because that’s what all the prayer vigils and community meetings do.
And don’t waste your time thinking you’re convincing anyone—not even one person—to do anything about it, because that’s what fulminating about it on Facebook and Twitter does.
So now you ask, “Well, then what am I supposed to do?”
“How can I make a difference?”
“How can I do something that will help make these mass shootings stop?”
The truth is, there is something you can do.
You can’t solve the problem, because as one person, you don’t have all the answers.
Gun control alone is not the answer.
Improving our mental health system alone is not the answer.
Arming more civilians alone—or at all, in my opinion—is not the answer.
But here is what you can do—as one person who cares—to make an impact and start America down the road towards a solution.
It’s one simple word.
The word that has enabled people to effect change since the birth of the nation.
A word that demands time, effort, persistence, patience, and fortitude.
Look that last one up if you don’t know what it means.
The word is … organize.
Organize a grass roots movement to get Congress to actively address the problem.
To study it.
To devote resources to solving it.
To treat mass shootings and gun violence the same way we treat vehicle safety or a disease that kills 30,000 people a year.
We don’t know the solution—even if you may think you have it—but if we make it a national priority to find it, instead of oversimplifying the problem—we can surely come up with one.
So how, exactly, do you organize?
Look at examples of movements that got results.
People who cared about Civil Rights did it.
Mothers who wanted to stop drunk driving did it.
Women who cared about breast cancer did it.
People who wanted to save people dying of AIDS did it.
It can be done.
Let me say that again.
IT … CAN … BE … DONE.
We can solve the problem.
So please, stop doing things that do nothing.
And start doing something that will do something.
Because honestly, this nonsense has got to stop.