Posts Tagged ‘I Fear for Us’

It Has to Stop

February 19, 2018

As usual, I do not want to talk about politics but today I feel like it is important to talk about activism. Heck, I think it is important to talk about activism every day. Activism has been an important activity since long before I was born and it will be important until the last human being dies. What spurs these thoughts should be obvious. Parkland, Florida is what I am talking about. But Parkland is just the latest incident in a long line of incidents that include but are not limited to Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, and Columbine. At least, I hope Parkland was the most recent as I publish this Monday morning because we are averaging one a week now. Each one is a blow to the heart so I cannot imagine the pain parents and friends are going through. It makes me scared and it makes me angry. I warn you that I am probably not going to say anything you have not heard or read elsewhere but I feel the need to say it too.

I went to the same school from first grade all the way to graduating high school. I was lucky enough to go to a private school and I recognize that privilege for what it is. Good genetics and hard work from my family. I felt cradled in safety when I went to Friends School of Baltimore. Every day was routine and the most I had to fear was a run in with a school bully and eventually teen angst. We used to hear horror stories about Baltimore City public schools that were probably exaggerated. I remember nodding but letting those stories slide off of me like the plot of a television show somebody else had seen. I was a high school sophomore when Columbine happened but even then I thought that those kids were just psychos. The now familiar cry of “mental health”. As a country, we pigeonholed a whole group of kids (the goth/Matrix-y kids) to the point where I unintentionally scared people by running around college with a long black coat.

After Columbine, discussions that were started quickly stopped when they should have continued. How did these boys get guns? Why did they shoot up their school? Why did nobody see it coming? I can tell you one thing, it was not video games, Heavy Metal, or Marilyn Manson. I liked all of those things and I never shot a single person. I never even thought of shooting another human being. Not once. As a nationwide community, we agreed to stop talking about it because it made us uncomfortable and people had their scapegoats to chase after. Everything was settled except for the problem. We returned to our lives and tried not to think about school kids getting murdered at school. Some concerned schools put up metal detectors and other schools required kids to carry transparent backpacks. These were lazy solutions that just treated normal kids like criminals.

The problem is, that Columbine was not the first school shooting and it was not the last. If it was, there would not be much of an issue. We would have cried our tears and then thanked the universe that it was an anomaly, a blip in the system. Instead, it is a persistent issue. That sounds too weak. It is a constant crisis that our country is facing. I say our country because most other nations do not have to worry about school shootings. In fact, a lot of countries of comparable population density do not need to worry about mass shootings at all. Why? Because the smart ones got rid of their guns, something our country is unreasonably stubborn about doing.

To a certain degree, I understand. These are the United States of America. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave and we have a document over two hundred years old that guarantees the right to bear arms. Great. I can get into the whole debate about how there were also documents that said it was alright to own slaves or that black people were only worth 3/5 of a white person. Also, documents that declared it was alright to keep American citizens in camps because they happened to have Japanese heritage. But I will not go down that rabbit hole today because I am a student of the law and I could go all night. The point is, the law is not written in stone. We can leave that to the religions of the world. It is a living document and we can banish any part of it that is causing people in our world pain.

So we should. We should absolutely get rid of all of our firearms. We do not need them. It has to be cheaper, less time consuming, and less dangerous to go to the supermarket at this point. (Of course, we are not getting into the issue of food deserts here but google that term.) We do not need guns for self-defense. But I know that taking people’s guns away is a long way off. Instead, we need to focus on real solutions. Prayers and thoughts are like so much air. We need common sense gun control and we needed it more than a century ago. We need to turn away groups like the NRA at the door. We need to make it harder for people to get their hands on guns. We need to choke off the loopholes and the illegal sources. We need to change the whole culture.

If people want to cry out “mental health” every time this sort of thing happens then let us actually take action on that too. If you see a kid who needs help, then say something to somebody. Let us actually spend money on education that gives kids hope for their future. Let’s get some school counselors who do not have to spend their time on standardized tests but instead on talking to kids about where their head is at. Like gun control, we have to actually do something about people who are getting left by the wayside. That includes not treating mental issues like they should be something to be ashamed of. Therapy and medication are not dirty words if they can actually help us be healthier and happier and safer. I am tired of so many words being silenced by lobbyists.

There is good news. The kids who survived Parkland are speaking out. They are lashing out at politicians who pretend to protect them in order to silence talk of gun control. People are rallying around those kids in ways that I have never really seen before. Part of that is that social media allows people to speak their mind without corporate interests being able to shut off the signal. More and more people are getting tired of hearing the same old song. People are getting tired of 18 school shootings (so far) in the first two months of 2018. Eventually, the issue will have to reach critical mass. I have to believe that because believing anything else is depressing as hell. I hope that generations in the future will shake their heads in confusion at what we allowed to continue.


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