A Personal Note From a UCSB Alum and Net Impact Staffer

Feeling heartbroken and then finding hope in the wake of a tragedy.

Shock waves from the Isla Vista killing spree that took place last week have fueled nationwide controversies and caused enormous devastation. As a UCSB alum and a champion for the empowerment of women and girls, I’ve been through my own tearful yelps and hissing rambles about how this could possibly happen. My heart aches for the victims and their loved ones. College students across the US are mourning this loss, and like me, wondering where to direct their angst over this tragedy.

What does one do with the rogue electric charge incited by this sort of injustice? It is a surreal experience to read stories about abject violence and atrocity, while casually scrolling through our news feeds, so frequently littered with frivolous status updates and celebrity gossip. How do we strike that delicate balance between full-fledged apocalyptic hysteria and resigned desensitization over the state of our world?

The jolt of fury I felt when I heard about the Isla Vista murders was not dissimilar to the fiery surge I experienced when I read about Boko Haram’s kidnapping of hundreds of girls in Nigeria, or the shooting of Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan, or the dozens of other acts of senseless violence against women I have read about in between. My outrage was exacerbated by a feeling of helplessness.

But I was not alone.

Each of these respective tragedies sparked a movement and catalyzed millions of people to take a stand for social justice. The explosion of #YesAllWomen shows how the Isla Vista murders have galvanized women around the globe to share their stories and rise up against gender-based violence. Similarly, #BringBackOurGirls and #IamMalala have connected people across continents and let the world hear their collective roar.

I’m inspired by these voices around the world and the brilliant young leaders I work with every day who are passionate about catalyzing change. The way this conversation has spread gives me hope.

We are not alone.

Desiree Lyons