shocked in place

3 shootings in Santa Cruz within the past 2 months. A rape on campus. This is all so unfathomable to me now. How has violence perpetuated to this state? How is there so much pent up anger that it is now suddenly being released with no filter?

It’s just so saddening to me that everyone who resides there is now in a state of alarm, even I am shocked and walk the streets a little bit more carefully, not only is the idea of violence is horrifying, it also spreads a message to the possible upcoming instigators of violence. Violence is ambiguous. Violence perpetuates violence. Violence awakens anger. And that’s what scares me the most – that this isn’t the end of it, that this is just the beginning of a domino effect, that this is just the space between the last and the next violent attack.

I hate that I live in a world where I walk in the middle of the street from my studio to my car so that I know far-ahead of time if anybody is going to approach me, opposed to walking on the sidewalk close to the fences and doors where anybody could walk out at any second and catch me off-guard. That is my logic. I hate that if I have to wonder if the person approaching me from the opposite end of the sidewalk is a good person. Because the truth of the matter is, he is. It just depends whether he’ll show an act of kindness while we pass, but I don’t take that chance because I switch to the other sidewalk. I hate that I am in a state of fear when the sun starts to set. And I know, and I laugh about this sometimes with my friends, which is that I have no reason to be scared. It’s all in my head, it’s all my anxiety forming unlikely possible outcomes. But then there are events like this that remind me of the very reason that this paranoia infiltrates my mind.

Why do I live in a world where my basic needs, such as security and safety, are not met? I already know my fight-or-flight response is freeze. Why is it that when i first started at UCSC, I heard recommendations of a free self-defense class for women? Why is it that I have a likelier chance of encountering a dangerous situation on the streets than in a dark forest? I hate that I have to clench my purse. I hate that I even have to worry about my safety, that I live in this so-called world where so many devastating events occur, one after the other. I can’t deal with pain, but I do, and I take the world’s pain into my little, little heart.

The other day I was driving to work from San Jose to Los Gatos and traffic formed on the 17. It was 11am, so it was an odd hour for there to be traffic. Minutes later, I realized I was going to slowly pass a traffic accident. As I passed the white SUV, I noticed the door was completely detached from its hinges, and the driver was already sent to the hospital.

In that moment, I cried. I cried because everybody on this road with me is worried about getting somewhere on the time, just nosy enough to slow down to see the accident, but fired up enough to only care about their own needs. In that moment, how much has changed? The scales have been tipped. How many lives are affected by this accident? How many loved ones will weep because this driver’s life is at sake? The fact of the matter is when certain events like these occur, it is not only the victim that is traumatized, but also everyone interconnected to it all. We are all connected to the pain, sympathizing with the pain.

May we all look up from here. May we all gently walk this Earth. May we all heal, love, prosper, hope, and prevail.

We need to know there is a light. We need to know that this violence will no longer continue. We don’t need to address the problem, because the problem is already so illuminated for us. We need to meet the perpetrators with love. These acts of violence symbolize a lack of being heard, a lack of understanding on both ends. Instead of viewing at the chain of events as what has happened to this world, we should now look towards the future and see what we can change for a better world. Spread the message of peace, for that is the town needs, that is what the world needs.

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