On Sunday, Oct. 1 at approximately 10:08 p.m., what is being labeled the deadliest mass shooting in recent United States history occurred. This massacre has ripped open a landfill of hot topics sure to spark heated and even hateful debate as political agendas are undoubtedly brought to light in the wake of conversation ranging from gun control to motive. I know that we need to talk about the how—as in how to stop such insane tragedies from occurring—but rather than try to understand the why, I urge everyone to take a few moments to examine another narrative.
I stand firm with the movement of “don’t say his name.” I know it is in human nature to grasp for some kind of reasonable explanation when faced with overwhelming and incomprehensible monstrosity, but searching for a why will just aid in glorifying violent figures. We cannot give attention to those who crave notoriety. Their names should be unspoken, their stories unsearched for. Conversation is something that needs to occur preemptively, but that is a conversation for another time. I want to instead devote the rest of this week’s words to examining the people who should truly be remembered.
NBC News shared the names of some of the brilliant people who we need to be talking about instead. There was emergency room nurse Sonny Melton, 29, who was celebrating his wedding anniversary with his wife, Heather, who credits him with saving her life. Heather wants the world to know what a loving, amazing man her husband was. Let us think of Debby Allen, who was at the concert trying to meet up with her son, Christopher Roybal. Debby searched desperately for her son, only to find he had been shot across the venue. Christopher, an Afghan veteran, is surely someone worthy of remembrance. Let’s remember the name Adrian Murfitt, a 35-year-old commercial fisherman who decided to treat himself to a fun night out, according to his sister, after a successful earning period. By all counts, Adrian deserved to continue his life and enjoy the fruits of his success. Perhaps we can be more kind and courageous in our everyday living to honor the spirits of these strong people who unjustly lost their lives.
CBS News reported that Kindergarten teacher Jenny Parks was amongst the fallen. Parks seemed like a lovely woman: married to her childhood sweetheart with whom she had two children and fresh from earning her master’s degree. Let’s remember Angie Gomez, a California cheerleader described as cheerful, with a loving spirit and warm heart that shine through clearly in a simple photograph. A moment of gratitude to Lisa Romero, a high school secretary who spent her life working with children, many of whom were said to look up to the sweet woman.
USA Today reported that a Marine veteran stole a truck to drive nearly 30 victims to the hospital. This is a man who deserves recognition. Instagram account tanksgoodnews—a rare entertainment news outlet devoted to only sharing positive stories about the daily good happening in the world—shared that 30-year-old Jonathan Smith saved close to 30 people before he was shot in the neck. Though he might spend the remainder of his life with a bullet lodged in his skin, luckily Smith has more of life to look forward to.
These are just some of the names we should instead be talking about. I could go on for a long time, not only recounting the names of the radiant, kind and energetic people whose lives were unfairly taken in this tragedy, but those of the outstanding individuals who stepped up at a time of fear and crisis.
I know it is the obligation of the news to report the truth, and unfortunately there are a lot of deranged and sickening things that happen in the world every day. But I urge everyone to take a moment each day to search out a few good stories. Every large-scale tragedy—and I mean every major tragedy—is teeming with stories about the heroism, courage, sacrifice and bravery of extraordinary citizens. The darkest moments of humanity bring out some of the most heart-warming stories of human endurance, perseverance, compassion and aid. This leads me to think that even though evil is certainly rife in some, human nature perhaps inclines us towards loving our fellow humans more than the regular news circuits would ever lead you to believe.
Emma Polini is the managing editor of the Van Alstyne Leader, Anna-Melissa Tribune and Prosper Press. What do you want in your paper? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to let her know.