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A Quiet Truth at Lollapalooza

Posted in: Blog by amy on August 4, 2019

This weekend is Lollapalooza in Chicago. The music festival has become a four-day event, full of music lovers, fashion lovers and party lovers. For more than a decade, I never missed this festival where I enjoyed many of my favorite bands. My greatest concern was how I was going to get from one stage to the next in time for the next set. Now, my children head to Grant Park each summer for Lollapalooza. So much is the same, and I see myself in them as they look at the schedule, mapping out their favorite sets. Yet, so much has changed. My 20-year-old son, getting ready for the event, recently told me how he never goes to an event like this without thinking about the possibility of a mass shooting occurring. He said that is his reality at college, as well. “Every time I’m in a classroom, I look around and formulate my exit plan. That’s how it is for my generation, Mom. Every concert, every class, everywhere we go, we’re thinking about that exit plan.”

Of course I’m aware that this has become the new reality. But, I still can’t wrap my head around it. It wasn’t that many years ago that I was at that festival or in a college classroom, without having to grapple with this tragic reality. What crippling fear many of our innocent children must face on a daily basis! I hope that at least today, for a few beautiful hours, those at Lollapalooza can get lost in the music as they escape their suffocating reality.


“When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest.” Henry David Thoreau


I have the Sunday morning news on right now. I turned it on to hear details about yesterday’s mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. But, what I’m hearing instead is breaking news about a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio! Another one. Overnight. It’s unbelievable. 

I remember when the infrequent mass shootings happened decades ago. We were speechless. It’s all we spoke of for weeks, even for months. But, now they are spoken of for merely minutes. It’s as if we’re growing numb to the news of tragedies at movie theaters, temples, mosques, schools and concerts. 

In a recent article in Mother Jones, the author states: “Since 1982, there have been at least 112 public mass shootings across the country, with the killings unfolding in 34 states, from Massachusetts to Hawaii. They are occurring more often: An analysis of this database by researchers at Harvard University, further corroborated by a different study from the FBI, determined that mass shootings have tripled in frequency in recent years.” 

Tripled. The number of innocent lives lost is unthinkable. We must absorb these statistics. 

We are not just going in the wrong direction, we are tumbling rapidly down an 80-degree slope in the wrong direction. 

What can we do? Focus more on mental health? Fight for better gun control? Get machine guns out of the hands of civilians? Put a stop to hatred? Vote? Scream? Shout? Cry? 

I feel so helpless. I do regularly sit and cry as the news stories unfold. I picture the mothers who will never hold their children again. I think of the friends who watched their buddies fall to their death on a dance floor. I imagine the young children hiding under their desks as their classmates bleed next to them. It is hard to write about yet alone think about. It is painful to admit that this is our reality. But, must we accept this? Must we accept a nation full of so much hatred and destruction? 

Like everyone else, I don’t have the answer. But, we can’t give up and say, “this is just a new reality.” It can’t be! For those of us who can read, write, petition … There has to be a new narrative that we can create and enjoy. We must do better. We must fill our homes with love, sympathy and understanding. We must teach our children not to hate. We must embrace music, education and beauty. And, we must never be anesthetized to the tragedies in our own backyards. Our children are going to the same festivals that we went to years ago — festivals that we headed to with a hopeful abandon, free of fear. They are going with an exit plan in mind. 

I don’t have any wise words with which to conclude my thoughts. I just needed to cry, and I know many of you are crying right beside me. I hope that all of our cumulative tears will turn into a river of power, or better yet, an ocean of change. 


“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”  Albert Einstein


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