Squirrel Hill

I am incredibly sad today.

Normally, I’ll try to talk about happiness. How to be happy even in the worst of times. But happiness is only one emotion. We don’t have to be happy all of the time.

If you haven’t heard, there was another mass shooting this past Saturday. Most of the time it is easy to feel disconnected from the shootings. After all, we usually aren’t personally affected by them.

This shooting happened in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in a neighborhood called Squirrel Hill. My school campus is outside of Pittsburgh, but many of our students are from the area.

I don’t know anyone who was killed. I know that friends of friends were killed and that people I care about could’ve just as easily been.

 

If you haven’t heard what happened, a man named Robert D. Bowers, 46, allegedly started by shouting anti-Semitic statements in a synagogue before firing his AR-15 style rifle. He killed 11 people:

Irving Younger

Melvin Wax

Rose Mallinger

Bernice Simon

Sylvan Simon

Jerry Rabinowitz

Joyce Fienberg

Richard Gottfried

Daniel Stein

Cecil Rosenthal

David Rosenthal

These people were in their place of worship, a place where they should’ve been safe. They did not deserve to die.

The man who killed them was vocally anti-Semitic and should never have been allowed a gun, much less a semi-automatic assault rifle and three additional handguns. He never should’ve thought it was acceptable to speak hatefully about another group, particularly to the extent that he did.

The people who were killed should’ve been safe, but they weren’t. As a country we keep allowing people to be killed because of hatred and intolerance. I have no intention of lying to you and saying that this country was built on freedoms. It wasn’t. It was built on slavery, indentured servitude, racism, sexism, homophobia, and so many other disgraceful things that raised rich white men above everyone else.

I will say that we’ve improved, but not enough. We claim that people have religious freedom in this country, but people are still being killed for their faith. We try to say we’re the land of the free, but we aren’t. We’re the land of the bullshit. We’re falling backwards too. I am not proud to be an American. In fact, I’m somewhat ashamed.

Good people get taken too soon, bad people get too many opportunities to do terrible things.

I used to believe bad people didn’t exist, that “bad people” were good people with poor decision making skills. I genuinely thought that everyone wanted to help others and be a kind and beneficial part of the human race.

I don’t believe that anymore.

“You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.”
― Jonathan Safran Foer

 

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