A Little Too Close to Home
Justin Sullivan

On Sunday, Radcliffe Haughton shot and killed his estranged wife and two other women in a Brookfield, Wisconsin spa before turning the gun he had bought two days earlier on himself. Recently, these violent acts have seemed all too common, forcing me to reevaluate the trust I held in the nature of people and question why these things were happening.

This past summer wasn’t very productive for me. I barely went outside, slept too much and spent most of my time with my head under a rock working as an assistant manager for the same movie theater I’ve been employed at since I was sixteen years old. I even downloaded an advertisement blocker so I could watch my “Call Me Maybe” covers free from any presidential election ads. I took some time off from the world, but the shootings in Aurora, Colorado at the Century 16 Megaplex pulled my head from the ground and affected me greatly, like for many Americans.

Along with the twelve lives lost that day came the loss of innocence at the movie theater, a place for entertainment and magic, where every class, creed, and gender can come together to lose themselves in a story. In a way, the movie theater represents America, an opportunity for a melting-pot of silhouettes to escape their problems and forget for awhile.

But the loss of all those innocent lives tested that ideal. I felt distrust in my customers, in my fellow man. I didn’t want to be constantly nervous that people were carrying weapons with the intent to harm others. I didn’t want to be scared.

Then came the shootings at the Oak Creek Sikh Temple, just three hours away from Stevens Point, the city I grew up in my whole life. Six innocent people were killed along with the shooter in a seemingly senseless act of violence, with possibly a racist motive. Americans were shot and killed because they were different. The American ideals of religious tolerance and the freedom of opportunity were carried out in stretchers in the same state that I live in. One again, a horrific, violent act forced me to question what it means to be a human being and what it means to be an American.

This questioning, these feelings of remorse, regret, and anger, extend above the evaluating of gun control laws. It is certainly an issue, but if someone had used a different weapon in any of these cases, I would still be writing this. The issue lies in the seemingly common disregard certain members of society feel for others. The loss of innocent lives so near to me that affect me and my community made me ask, “Just what we all are working for?” How are we to deal with our differences as a nation, as a state, as the human race? And the thing is… I don’t have any answers for anyone, including myself. I just feel like we all have to start looking.