Breaking News’ Call for Action is Just a Fad by Elizabeth Martinez

The week after August 21, 2013 brought breaking news coverage, videos and photos leaked of the bodies of children, men, and woman killed by the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons. A national debate ensued about whether the United States should intervene.

For weeks after, national news outlets covered United States meetings with Russia, a presidential address on the subject, and United Nations meetings that led to the calling on Syria to destroy their chemical weapon arsenal; in the end, we didn’t intervene.

However, once the news broke, all the news coverage we saw before: “United States says it might aid Syrian Rebels,” “Syrian rebels still hopeful for freedom from regime,” all just simply stopped. In the blink of an eye, it seems as though we no longer cared.

Arguably, Syria is a middle-eastern country, and we have domestic issues that we want to tackle; however, interest in these issues has become fad-driven, and it seems to be widely accepted that we, the American people, cannot change things.

On December 14, Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children, and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School; it became the second deadliest mass shooting by one person, the first being Virginia Tech. The nation mourned, and gun control advocates quickly began to rally, and make petitions, calling for federal gun legislation to prevent school shootings that we now see too often.

It seemed as though the movement was gaining traction, big world news stations were covering the call for legislation, and people wanted to bring about real change. But just like Syria, in a blink of an eye, we lost interest.

When Sandy Hook is brought up now, we shake our heads and think of the horror, yet we never think of the outcome if we had pursued legislation further. We have become complacent, accepting things as unchangeable, and saying they are just too big for our control. We forget that we are voters, and that our money alone may not have power, but collectively we make up the masses.

The discussion on gun control legislation was dropped. Later on, in April of 2013, the Senate voted to pass a bill that called for federal gun control and a ban on assault weapons. The vote failed and no one seemed to care. No one  called for our nation to do better.

A little closer to home, even earlier than Sandy Hook, was the death of a 17-year old boy named Trayvon Martin. The outcry of his family, and the news coverage of the story brought out blacks, Hispanics, and whites to protest and call for the conviction of his alleged killer. On July 13, 2013, George Zimmerman was found not guilty under the Stand Your Ground law, and the nation that night was in a frenzy.

Everyone cried over social media “injustice” and petitions began to run to limit, or revoke, the controversial Stand Your Ground law. People were ready to fight; and they did. The streets across Florida, in major cities like Miami, were filled with people calling on the government to put Zimmerman in jail. Many believed this was a racial case. “Had Trayvon been white, the verdict would have been different,” they said. The debate’s fire fizzled out, just like it always does, and Trayvon Martin is no longer a common name.

Trayvon, Sandy Hook, and Syria are just few among the many times that news stories have been just taken as fads. We mourn the loss of lives to gun and chemical weapons, but we wipe our tears and walk away, not realizing that these things will happen again, and already have. We sit on our couches and complain about the politicians, forgetting that we are the ones voting them into office. We turn human issues into trending topics, only to then drop them the minute they are no longer popular, and then moving on to the next one, accomplishing nothing, bettering nothing.

As Americans, we seem to no longer believe that the people have say in our government. We are clinging to complacency, to the idea that if we leave issues alone, they will better themselves. How long will it take for the American people to be so outraged that they will go through with legislative action? Because Syria, Sandy Hook, Trayvon Martin, and the countless other cases do not seem to be enough.


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