UNC Charlotte students organized a candlelight vigil to come together after a former student opened fire at the school on April 30, 2019. Six students were shot, two were killed. Photo credit: Alvin C. Jacobs, Jr.
I was awakened in the middle of the night weeping for parents I do not know. After hearing about the shooting, lost lives, and harm at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC), I began to think deeply about the phone calls made to families informing them that their child was taken away while pursuing their dreams. I imagined it through the lives of my own children and how memories since they were little babies in my arms created connections that gave me more air to breathe. I know the air must feel thinner for those parents who lost their babies this week. We should all let them breathe for a moment.
While many of us will begin to dissect Tuesday’s shooting through various social and political lenses, our civil struggles can wait another day or week. We do not need to “ambulance chase” or be the first responders on the sociopolitical scene. Our focus should be on those who will live with this for a lifetime, long after the cameras and hashtags disappear from our short and distracted memories. As an advocate for “gun responsibility,” I understand the connections that appear obvious to us when these tragedies take place. We can hold off on the debates for one week to simply pray for families that will have to live a new life.
For many parents, our worst fear is to lose a child before we leave this Earth. Life is much different before and after such a loss. My oldest daughter attended UNCC. She is a teacher and lover of life. I could not imagine losing her smile the way those young students lost their lives. I am not suggesting much. I just want us to think about giving those grieving parents and families a little air.
Patrick C. Graham, Ph.D is a public sector leader and author with over 21 years of executive level experience. He is also a professor of contemporary history and social advocate.