Just a warning here before you read any further. This is not my normal feel good post. This is a post brought about by the frustration I feel over the polarization of our country that we can’t seem to shake even in the midst of the devastating loss we have suffered as a nation, and guns. Writing is cathartic to me. It helps me sort my feelings. And for some reason I am feeling like staying silent is akin to not voting. If the voices of those who are afraid of random people toting assault weapons are drowned out by those who insist that our forefathers (who were using muskets) were giving us the right to carry assault weapons, we are in for more and more of this insanity. I wrote this within a few days of the hell in Connecticut and sat on it until I was certain I wanted to post it. I think that time has come.
I have read that staying away from controversial subjects is a MUST in blogging. It would be safer to just feel how I feel and stay silent. But silence on this issue doesn’t feel right to me. We don’t get to vote on it. Yet it seems like we have an obligation to talk about it, to reach some kind of meeting of the minds. And to do that we have to explore why we feel the way we do, and exchange ideas. These are mine. If you disagree, that’s fine. But hopefully when you are deciding how you feel, you’ll at least consider them.
It’s taken me a few days to get myself to the point where I can blog again. The events of the past few days have left me so sad and distressed. I have 3 grandchildren – two four years old and an eight year old. I often take them to school in the mornings and expect to pick them up safe and sound in the afternoon. The empathy I feel for those families in Connecticut is overwhelming, and I’m not alone.
I’ve wanted to write my way through this as I do most things, but I haven’t wanted to make it seem like it is about me, or make anyone even sadder or more upset than they already are. So, I’ve just stayed away.
But it has continued to dominate my thoughts. Mr. Tattered says it’s getting obsessive, and he’s probably right. I seem to have two ways to process my sadness. Shove it into a box and ignore it, or immerse myself in it. People keep telling me how unhealthy it is to shove my sadness in a box, so I’m dwelling on it instead. Feeling it. Examining it. Trying to make sense of both the situation and my reactions to it. I’ve done a lot of reading, watching. Absorbing.
The straw that made me finally need to get it out there was when a friend on Facebook posted a picture of the first family in a lovely pose stating that they get protection 24/7, but don’t want us to have high powered weapons to protect our own. I politely suggested that maybe this was an issue we didn’t need to politicize, and reminded them the President’s family could not reject Secret Service protection if they wanted to. Turns out this person HATES Obama and just ripped my head off, figuratively speaking, of course.
This is a horrible time for our country. We have been through an excruciatingly divisive election, and now this unfathomable tragedy…and in the wake of it, we managed to grieve together for about 5 minutes, and now we’re back at each others throats again.
This is not, or at least SHOULD not, be a political issue. Or a religious issue. Or any other divisive issue. We should all be horrified by the sad state of our country, where this kind of violence can happen, and figure out how to solve the problem. By talking. And exploring the source or sources of the problem. We need to look at guns. We need to look at mental health issues. We need to look at violent video games and other media. We need to look at our values, the way we treat each other with such hostility, the disrespect we show people with whom we disagree, and it’s possible we even need to look at what we are eating or otherwise ingesting that may be causing mental issues for our youth. I doubt there is only one cause. We need to explore them all.
The absolute last thing we should be doing is turning against each other. Yes, there are passions running high all around, but for God’s sake. Seriously? There are 28 people who have lost their lives. 20 of them babies. Babies that could have belonged to any of us. Babies that for all intents and purposes DO belong to us. The pain is so great it FEELS like they are. And we are going to fight about guns? Guns. It makes me sick.
Yes, I know. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. They could use any number of weapons. And when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. But they are using assault weapons more and more, and there seems to be little way to stop a person bent on using them to kill as many people as possible in the shortest time. There can be no disagreement that more people can be killed by a gun with a bunch of quick change 30 round magazines or a 100 round barrel than a revolver or rifle that loads one bullet at a time, or a knife, or a baseball bat.
I am not opposed to responsible people owning guns, I just don’t see why anyone outside the military or the police need this kind of fire power. And if the price for letting them have them is the death of so many innocents…well, it doesn’t work for me. The right to own any kind of weaponry you want to own, should not trump my right to take my grandchildren to school and feel like they are safe. It should not trump the right of people to mingle in a mall safely. Or go to a movie without coming out in a body bag. It should not be more important than traumatized children, or first responders who have to witness the crime scenes. It should not be more important than teachers having to take advanced active shooter training to protect their charges. It should not have to mean I have to be afraid every moment I am in public with my grand babies.
Yes, there are other issues besides guns. This problem goes much deeper than that. We have to change our violent culture, and that is going to take time. We have to change the way we deliver mental health in this country, and that will take time. But we have to do something. We have to start somewhere. And it seems like a good place to start is to make it more difficult for the crazies to take out so many people so quickly.
Are we really going to consider doing nothing? Are we going to accept that this kind of carnage is just part of living in a free society? It’s not bad enough that we have to teach our babies that bad people might touch them in ways they shouldn’t have to even know about at those tender ages? Now we have to teach them to run and hide if the bad man comes into their classroom? They have to be trained to listen for popping sounds so they know when to run, when they should be concentrating on their lessons or listening to laughter and music and birds singing? Just so people can own these kinds of guns if they want to? Seriously? If this is what freedom means…well, I’m not so sure I want to be that free.