Southeast Missouri State University student publication

The Long Lens: October 5, 2017

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Bridging the Infinite Distance

Rachael Long, author

Like many others, I woke up on Monday morning to devastating news: a confirmed 58 people were killed and at least 500 injured in a mass shooting that took place at a country music festival in Las Vegas. From his 32nd floor room at the Mandalay Bay hotel, the gunman open-fired on the crowd below. He was reportedly in possession of 10 semi-automatic assault-style rifles.

Mass panic ensued that night. At first, some thought the shots were fireworks. Some knew what was happening and were screaming at those around them to take cover. A stampede cost several people articles of clothing, and some their lives.

A feeling of dread washed over me upon reading this news on Monday morning. The question on all of our minds is undoubtedly, “Why?”

I wish we could call this an isolated incident. I wish my mind didn’t immediately go back to the Pulse nightclub, Sandy Hook, Paris or Virginia Tech. I wish I didn’t hear myself saying, “Really? Again?”

But if the past has taught us anything, it’s that wishful thinking doesn’t solve larger issues like this one.

So how do we do it? Many would argue that gun-control laws are the unequivocal solution to all of these shootings. Others argue that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

I’ve heard it said that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. But what is truth but completely subjective? We all have our own truths, and a big problem with achieving a state of peace is that we can’t seem to come together because of the infinite distance between our versions of the truth.

What I always come back to is this: as human beings, it’s in our nature to find ways to bridge that infinite divide. We want to come together, we want to be unified, but how can we with these vastly different ideas about the truth?

For me, the news can be overwhelming, heartbreaking and can make a person feel helpless. What can one person do to change the world for the better? How can you stay positive and hopeful for a better tomorrow when the news brings a fresh tragedy with each passing day?

I think it starts with conversation, and not the kind that simply ends in anger and disrespect (although heightened tempers are to be expected). Instead, it’s the kind of conversation that allows for a spectrum of ideas to flourish, for people to meet each other where they are and work their way to a common understanding.

In our own community, this kind of change-geared conversation takes place every Tuesday night at Cup ‘n’ Cork, where individuals of the Cape Girardeau community come together to talk about the issues that divide us, racially, socially and otherwise.

Community Conversations is hosted at Cup 'n' Cork, at the corner of Spanish and Independence streets in downtown Cape Girardeau at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday nights.
Photo submitted by Rev. Renita Green

In these meetings, the topic of conversation changes from week to week, but the idea behind the event is the same: to create a space where uncut, raw and honest opinions can flow in hopes of creating a culture of change.

Change starts with talking. It starts with the willingness to have a conversation, to begin a dialogue, to garner an understanding of our fellow brothers and sisters.

Otherwise we give the infinite distance between us all the power in the world to tear us apart.