Editorial: Politicizing tragedies needs to come to end

It should never be easy to talk about gun violence, but recent events have made us realize that we were leaving out one key component of the issue – the heart.

It seems too easy lately to respond immediately in harsh indignation at the politics of it all. Maybe it’s because of the election season. Maybe it’s because we live smack dab in the middle of the conservative Midwest.

When we witness another tragedy on the news, we respond with polarizing opinions and hypotheticals about our own lives, but what happens when that tragedy strikes our own?

Last Thursday in Hesston, Kansas, Cedric Ford killed three people and wounded 14 others before he was shot and killed by Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder.

This event hit too close to home and put the gun conversation on hold locally. Outpourings of grace and mourning were posted on social media over the weekend, many with the hashtag “#HesstonStrong.”

There is something to be said for the resiliency of small towns. When tragedy strikes, differences are forgotten and people rally together in support of their community. The pain of this event was felt across the state, reminding us of our Kansas identity above all. We are humbled and heartbroken by these events. These were our fellow Kansans.

This heartbreaking event made us realize that humanity lies at the epicenter of this issue. More lives are lost to gun violence every day. This is about more than guns and politics and more than, dare we say, conservatives versus liberals. This is about human lives, our neighbors’ lives, at stake.

This is one of those rare moments in our recent years that Kansan is a unifying identity. This week, we are proud citizens of the heartland. Like we are so well known for, midwestern compassion has shined brightly. For those of us who have continued to focus on compassion, rather than the politicization of this event, let us continue to be models for the rest of the United States and the world.