Questions without any apparent answers

Published 6:01 pm Friday, August 9, 2019

What are we doing here?

I ask this question to each and every one of you out there in an attempt to understand how we got to this point and how to move forward. Hey, my fellow Americans, what are we doing here?

I ask this in concern, in sadness, in frustration, in outright anger. What are we doing here?

I ask this days after our country suffered through two more mass shootings within the same day. I ask this weeks after people at a presidential rally gleefully chanted “send her back” (to another country) about an American citizen. I ask this months after immigrants started being treated less than human, separated from their families and held in cages at the border. I ask this almost two years after white supremacists started a riot in Charlottesville chanting “you will not replace us.”

And I could keep going further back than that with more examples of violence and hatred and injustice. I could keep going back years, decades, even centuries.

What are we doing here?

We can’t plug our ears and close our eyes and pretend these things aren’t happening. Because it’s still happening whether or not you choose to read the news headlines across the country. It’s easy—too easy—to say it doesn’t affect us here locally where we live in our little bubble.

But if there’s nothing else we’ve learned lately, it’s that our bubble can burst at any time. At the movie theater, at the school, at the festival, at the bar, at the Walmart around the corner. I don’t walk around in fear, but I do walk around in resignation, knowing that one moment can permanently change all the thousands of moments that come afterwards.

What are we doing here?

Ignoring the problem and sweeping it under the rug doesn’t help. It just lets the problem fester like an infected open sore, oozing out hate and racism and violence. You can’t slap a band-aid on a whole river of blood and expect the problem to just fix itself.

I admit I’m at a loss about what to do. I’m just one person, and I only have the power of one person. But I feel like I’ve been watching a pot of racism simmer on the stove for years now until it’s finally reaching its boiling point.

What are we doing here?

I think the only way we can take the pot off the stove and away from the heat is to work together, even if it’s just one step at a time. Even if it’s a small start as simple as condemning racism, white supremacy, and anyone who carries out acts of terrorism in our country. Even if it’s putting anger aside and talking rationally about the problems with gun laws in our country. Even if it’s simply reflecting on our own failings and vowing to do better, or at least to do something instead of nothing.

I want to know what are we still doing here. Why can’t we make any progress? How many more people have to die until we care?

If you have the answers, tell me.

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at or 252-332-7206.