MY Jacksonville

I write for a lot of reasons, but all of them are for me. Usually I write because I have a script in my head that plays on a loop over and over again preventing me from thinking about anything else until I write it down. I play with it in my head, write more lines, change it, add more but it always starts with that same nugget. That same loop. So I write it down. If I am already asleep, I reach for my phone and text it to myself (its usually super hard to decipher the next morning). If I am at my desk, I will send myself an email. If I am out and about, I text myself. By the time I’ve finished typing, its gone – so much so that when I get that text or email alert, I’m always eager to see who texted me!

Last nights script was unforgiving. It was about the mass shooting in Jacksonville (Click to learn more about JAX shooting); the city I live in. Earlier on the news, I watched as two young men answered one of the inane questions the reporter posed, “Why do you think this happened in JAX?” I’m not sure if they were eager for air time, thrilled they finally had a platform or really believed what they were saying, but what they said was what ignited the loop.

“This is Jacksonville. This is what happens here. People are bored. There are no opportunities…” I don’t remember verbatim what they said, but this is what I heard – and it made me angry. We have four Fortune 1000 companies, three Fortune 500 companies, more than 20 higher learning institutions, twenty plus advanced medical institutions, the largest industrial park in the Southeast, more than 80 industry headquarters, the 4th fastest growing import port in the US…I honestly could go on and on about the stats and facts of this great city (More Stats & Facts). There are plenty of opportunities, you just have to be willing to find them.

I can not answer why this happened; I can only tell you my opinion. As someone who has been unemployed for two months now, I assure you, it is not for the lack of opportunities. Every day more jobs are added to our area businesses in a variety of fields, there are skilled trades, professional roles, hourly staff, contract work, you name it, we have it! The caveat is, you have to be qualified for it and you have to work for it. You are not entitled to it any more than I am. Every day I spend about six hours combing through on line job sites, following up on leads and reaching out to my networks. At some point, this work will pay off, until that time, I am not blaming my city. In this city I have grown and learned and laughed and played. This is the city where I got to watch my nephews grow their love and talent for hockey while becoming young men. This city has allowed my nieces to discover talents and friendships and step into their roles as confident little women. It has cared for my sister while she went through her cancer treatments like a bad ass. This city has allowed me and my family to chase dreams and continue to enjoy one another.

So, no, this is not Jacksonville. This event is a symptom of a larger issue that doesn’t just belong to JAX; it is a you problem, it is a me problem, it is an US problem. This might be an unpopular statement and probably a weird one coming from a person who is admittedly not pro gun, but it isn’t a gun control issue. In my heart of hearts, I do not believe that tighter gun restrictions will solve anything – the problem isn’t the guns, its the people. The person who chose to use a gun to take the life or harm another person IS the problem. I will absolutely agree that there should be requirements imposed to own a gun; however, it will not stop the people problem.

Instead of pointing at the wrong issues (lack of gun control, lack of opportunities, etc.), we need to get at the root of why people turn to violence to solve THEIR problems. We need to learn to be kind to one another. We need to turn away from our screens and TALK to one another; only through true understanding will we learn how to solve this problem and not just a symptom.

It seems like we might all be on a loop…


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