Sitting in a study room at the library, I worked diligently on the most important paper of my college career. After writing and researching for most of the morning, my pals and I decided we deserved a break. As we left the library to grab a drink from the café, we all pulled out our phones to catch up on social media (typical, right?).
While I laughed at an Instagram post from Buzzfeed, my friend read something completely different. She said to me, “There was another shooting today. This morning.” My whole heart dropped. The tragedy in Paris was still so fresh, and now another mass shooting in our own country?
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I half-heartedly asked her where and when the words “San Bernardino” left her lips my entire body went numb. My university is in San Bernardino County, and the city of San Bernardino is less than ten minutes away.
On Wednesday, December 2, a man and woman opened fire at the Inland Regional Center, killing 14 people and injuring 22. The tragic and heartless shooting occurred 8 miles down the road from me.
I do not know any of the people who lost their lives or watched their coworkers die; I don’t know anyone who got a phone call telling them their spouse, sibling, or parent was killed. But I do know that I share a city with those people, I shop at the same grocery stores they do, and I’ve wandered down the same streets they have.
Fourteen innocent people are dead due to what President Obama has declared as acts of terrorism. There have been more mass shootings in the United States now than ever. You never think it will happen to you or close to you until it does.
But here’s the thing—it didn’t just happen to me, or to the people of San Bernardino. It didn’t just happen to our country. This tragedy, and all of the others like it, happened to humanity.
Life is so damn short and, unfortunately, there are people out there that want to take that precious gift away from others. In the wake of international tragedy, it’s easy (and okay) to get down but important to continue moving forward and maintain a level of positivity.
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Here are ten things that’ll make you feel a little bit better and can help make the world shine a little brighter:
- Tell your family and friends you love ‘em. Give a hug every chance you get.
- Smile at a stranger. Say hi to a stranger. Small gestures go a long way.
- Find a cause you care about and donate some time to making a difference.
- It gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy (Legally Blonde, anyone?).
- Call your state senators or representative to advocate for gun control.
- Make time for the people and things you love.
- Write a letter to an old friend. Pen pals are the best.
- Grab your best friends and dance it out to Taylor Swift. Trust me, dance parties are insanely therapeutic.
- Spread positive vibes by writing anonymous notes of encouragement to leave around campus.
- Recognize what’s going on in the world. Stay up to date on the news, even though it’s hard. Knowledge generates change.
Our world is in desperate need of light. It is too easy to let the darkness take over when tragedies such as San Bernardino happen, but spreading the love and positivity is a sure way to lighten up the world and make an actual difference. Have a little faith in humanity and believe that we are capable of change.
This article was originally published on The Lala.