I don’t know about you, but I had a pretty uneventful weekend; I didn’t feel much like going out and celebrating.
My Friday started super early. I woke up at 4:45 am to get dressed and take my friend to the airport. We got there early; I wished her ‘safe travels’ and then quickly jumped back on the road so that I could get home before nightfall. I thought I’d be stuck in traffic for hours, but it turns out no one likes to congest highways early on a Friday morning. Lucky me.
I pulled back into my driveway just before seven (Pacific Time), glad that I would have a chance to see my husband before he left for the day. I surprised him with my early return, saw him off and made myself a cup of coffee. I took my usual spot on the couch and settled in to read the news and disseminate anything urgent, breaking, funny, relevant or interesting via my social media outlets. Within minutes, the first alert came through, “School shooting in CT., at least three shot. One gunman is reported to be dead.” Immediately, I turned the TV to the news. I was not prepared for what I would see.
I learned that it was true, there had been another school shooting. This one though, was at an elementary school. I was glued to the TV from that moment until well into the evening. I wanted to know how many were hurt. I had to know if anyone else had died; I was petrified for the children and needed to know if they were ok. As we all came to find out, they were not ok.
I think I began weeping immediately. I can’t say for sure when it started, but the tears wouldn’t stop. I would look away, try to write, read my Twitter feed--anything, but nothing worked. I could not ignore it; instead I read every bit of new information that was reported and then relayed the major updates. After the initial shock began to recede, I got angry.
I stayed glued to the Internet, reading about and discussing the tragedy unfolding in Newtown. #GunControlNow seemed to be the universal sentiment in my digital circles. Even I jumped on guns and thought, “If only we couldn’t buy guns at Wal-Mart, this wouldn’t be happening.” Then, when I saw that the White House had responded to inquiries about Newtown, telling journalists that ‘today was not the day;’ I thought, I’ve suffered loss and totally understand the sentiment. I should respect the moment a school, a family, a community had to absorb such terrible loss. So, I backtracked and stopped any further political comment. Later, of course, I went right back to it because this shouldn’t have happened. This happens too often and this should never happen again.
To believe that the catastrophe at Sandy Hook Elementary School took place only because we’re a country obsessed with our right to bear really fancy, powerful, semi-automatic arms is a part of the problem. We can’t do ourselves, or those killed, the injustice of oversimplifying the circumstances that lead up to the massacre in Connecticut. We also can’t do what we’re known to do; obsess about it and then forget it ever happened. Updating your Facebook profile picture with a black sash, candle or an RIP is not enough. Wishing those survivors well and telling them you will pray for them on Twitter, is not enough.
What we need to do is wake the fuck up America. It is no longer a time to debate; we must now act. Remember Columbine? Remember Virginia Tech? Remember the other week in Portland? Nothing has changed. Innocent people are being slaughtered regularly, en masse, in the Land of the Free. Denial has no place in a Defcon 4 situation. We simply cannot leave things as they are and cross our fingers that it doesn’t happen again.
You, us, me, we need to figure out what it is about our country’s current state / culture that has transformed it into a petri dish for mass murder. We know that access to mental health care is essential, we understand that maybe we should make it harder to obtain devices created to kill people (and animals), we suspect we should not glamorize violence as much as we do and we concede it’s important to focus on family. We need to tell our government, our local representatives, what we feel is necessary in order to prevent this from happening again. This is our country and the buck does indeed stop here--with us.
And you, Government, you guys need to get in a room and figure out the best possible solution to the dire situation we’ll present to you. Listen to us; you’re there to manage our country; manage it! Get over yourselves and do your jobs. Shit Creek does not get much worse than an elementary school shooting on a Friday before Christmas. I’m lookin’ at you Congress, this divided crap has got to stop. The dialogue has been opened. If we learn nothing from this and take zero action, those lives will have been lost in vein.
My deepest and sincerest sympathies to all those who lost loved ones in the Newtown tragedy. To the Parents, my heart breaks alongside yours. You are not alone.
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