Ivan Natividad: Choose empathy over politics | TheUnion.com

Ivan Natividad: Choose empathy over politics

Ivan Natividad

The worst part about it is that you can’t say goodbye.

There is no time to say all of the things you would have wanted to say. You can’t tell them how much they meant to you. How much you wish it were you and not them. How much they changed your life for the better.

No more hugs, no more kisses, no chance to say “I love you,” one last time.

There is nothing you can do to bring them back. You ask why? Why did this have to happen?

We can remember the victims and support their loved ones through a shared fellowship of love and compassion.

But there is no answer.

So you curse the sky. You pound your bare fists against the earth. You scream. You cry.

You sit in sadness, with this pain and anger that has attached itself to your heart. Then you’re expected to live life like it was.

But you can’t.

There will always be that emptiness inside of you because they are gone.

And you try to fill it with memories.

You fill it with the laughter and the hugs, the kisses and the smiles. All of the wonderful times you had with that person. And you hold onto them.

You remember them.

In April, I lost my cousin Janelle in a hit-and-run car accident. In more ways than one, she was a teacher. She was 29.

After watching the horrific tragedy unfold in Las Vegas Sunday, my first thoughts went toward the family members of the victims. The ones left behind to deal with all of the unanswered questions, the “what ifs,” and the unbridled emotion that comes with losing a loved one in a sudden and tragic way.

They are at the beginning of a long-term relationship with grief. A grief that will likely manifest itself differently for everyone involved. As human beings, I think we have a duty to be sensitive to that.

Scouring social media, I’ve seen a majority of posts have been compassionate and sympathetic to the victims and their loved ones. But there is also the obvious over-politicizing that occurs whenever a tragedy like this happens.

Whatever your perspective is on the debate over gun control is your prerogative.

The dialogue over policy that is polarizing, like gun control, is necessary for opposing sides to understand each other and move forward with compromise together.

But there is a serious problem when people get so engrossed in a political blame game that they share misinformation that is not only false, but dangerous.

That is not a conversation about policy, it’s politics as usual.

By politics, I mean the sport of politics. I mean the stories circulating around the web falsely attempting to link the Las Vegas shooter to a specific political ideology or party in order to spread propaganda.

Even more disturbing are the political conspiracy theorists who seem to think that survivors from every single mass-shooting massacre are all the same person, alluding to the tragedies as not real.

Tell that to the families of the dead.

We can’t expect websites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to filter out all of this nonsense, but as human beings maybe we can do our own filtering to stop the spread of this unapologetic and desensitizing misinformation.

Maybe we can see past the politics and remember that these were people who were once alive, and they deserve more than the lies spread about what happened to them.

Maybe we need to realize that every tragedy doesn’t always have to be an opportunity to draw a larger social media audience, but an opportunity to come together to find solutions, and support those who were personally affected.

The Las Vegas shooting was another reminder that there are disturbed individuals in the world who seek to do others harm for no apparent reason.

But in the wake of this tragedy, we can reject the lies that divide us, and hold onto what unites us.

We can think twice before we share misinformation for the purpose of perpetuating our own political beliefs.

We can remember the victims and support their loved ones through a shared fellowship of love and compassion.

We can choose empathy over politics.

To contact Digital Editor Ivan Natividad, email inatividad@theunion.com or call 530-477-4242.

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