Every day I open up Facebook, and every day I see another Donald Trump story. Actually a lot more than one. My friends are angry, they are frustrated and annoyed, and they are almost exclusively talking to other friends who feel the same way about Mr. Trump.
Facebook is a great way to have your feelings validated because in most cases you choose your friends and your friends typically think like you do. Typically, but not always. I see some of my friends having daily fights in the comments of their posts, defending Hillary or Trump. More power to them. Then again, I have yet to see a single mind changed. I can feel their anger, their disillusionment, their simple question of “how can someone look at the facts (or lack of facts) and still vote for Trump.” I have those thoughts too.
However, about a month ago, I stopped paying attention. Sure, I watched the debate. Not watching it would be like not watching the SuperBowl. Donald Trump is a distraction. Sure, that “distraction” could end up being the President so he’s a really important distraction, but nothing he says or does is going to make me vote for him. Nothing. But don’t confuse not paying attention with apathy. I care who wins this election, I care a lot. I’m not worried about Trump starting a nuclear war or building a wall, I’m worried that a Trump election will validate the feelings of the millions of people who actually think he’s on to something. I don’t want to see them emboldened. I worry what they could do next.
I have one vote. Just like everyone else. So, I’m not going to let Trump distract me. Maybe you shouldn’t either? I look at Facebook and I mentally start adding up all the time people are spending validating what they already know to be true. What else could we all be doing? Everyone processes things differently, but for me, reading about the millions of people who will vote for Trump depresses me. So I don’t.
I think about all the news stories that are being gobbled up and not reported on to the extent necessary because the media — all of them — are wetting their pants trying to get the latest scoop on Trump. They are his pawns or maybe it’s the other way around. Trump isn’t dumb. He knows the game. He says something ridiculous. Broadcast “news” covers it. Ratings increase. He gets free publicity. They increase advertising rates. Trump says something even more ridiculous. And the cycle continues.
But do you want to know what I thought about this week when I was not following Donald Trump’s latest (what was it now, making sure the terminally ill vote for him?)? I thought about Jacob Hall. Who? Right, you don’t know who that is, do you? Why would you? He was six. He lived in South Carolina. Figure it out yet? No? He was shot in the leg by a 14-year-old boy who for some reason shot his father at home and then drove to an elementary school and shot Jacob, as well as two others who survived, on the playground…with a handgun. The playground at school!
The bullet from the gun struck Jacob’s leg and shattered an artery. Jacob lost too much blood and died in the hospital this week. He had a super hero-themed funeral instead of a birthday. No one knows the motive of the 14-year-old yet. I’m not sure it matters. He called his grandparents crying after he allegedly shot his father, so I don’t think we’re talking about some criminal mastermind at work here.
Now, I’m forced to think about Jacob. I really don’t want to, but I can’t not think about him. I look at my own 6-year-old and think what in the world would I do without him. Who would I become? How would my family survive? When I drop him off at school, I look at all the ways a gunman or gunchild (since they are mostly children after all) can easily access campus. I struggle with whether the school should have better security in place, but then I think to myself, it’s an elementary school — kindergarten is scary enough without having to pass through a metal detector.
So, I do what every parent is doing.
And I vote.
I’m not too proud to admit that I don’t always vote. But I will this time. And in the future too. Because it’s an action I can take.
That’s the part I don’t think Mr. Trump and others understand.
All the people, like myself, who were always “too busy” to take action…well, sir, I like to think you stirred the hornet’s nest in a way you didn’t foresee…we may not be reading every story, but we are definitely paying attention.
Photo courtesy of Tom Simpson https://www.flickr.com/photos/randar/