Last year, I wrote the two most significant things that I’ve ever done were move to Colombia and have children. They are, by far, the two things that have thrown everything I “knew” to be true and put question marks all over that “knowledge.”
This has been simmering in me for over a month now. I’ve been trying to comprehend the reactions I’ve read about in the news, on Facebook, around the country and world. I didn’t want to write anything for fear that what I have to say wouldn’t come out the way I wanted to say it. But the simmer has turned to a boil. I’m angry. I’m furious. So I have to write.
The two things that have most impacted my life that didn’t touch me “directly” have been 9-11 and the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. During 9-11, I never felt so proud of how a nation could pull together: firefighters, politicians, police officers, military … During those first months post 9-11, it felt like everyone understood what was important. We came together, put our individual needs aside, and worked together as a country.
Post Sandy Hook Elementary, though, I feel shame. We’ve hit bottom. Twenty first graders lost their lives. Six of their teachers. Twenty six people, educators and CHILDREN, died brutal, horrible, senseless deaths. They weren’t on the “front lines” of some war. They were probably going to school that day to do winter crafts and learn about snow.
My stomach hurts. I read every name of those children and their teachers. I read them slowly. Out loud. Their names should be shouted everywhere because somehow, somewhere, things have gone horribly wrong.
In the aftermath, there’s been so much love and support to Sandy Hook Elementary and its community. That, I am proud of. However, there’s also been this:
(Yeah. Likening Obama's administration to a man responsible for the deaths of 11 million people, only counting the gypsies and Jews in concentration camps and not counting the people who died during the war, disgusts me. You don't have to like the president, but Jesus, get a historical grip.)
And this ...
That’s the best they can do? This is how they console the families of those who died? This is their callous reaction to the senseless death of children: Don’t take my fucking guns away, dude. It’s my fucking right.
You see where the whole hanging my head in shame comes in.
This is a perversion of the individualism that makes America so great. There are few countries in which anything is possible. America is one of them because we honor the individual. But when the individual’s needs, cravings, and ego get in the way of the greater good for society, that’s the ugliest part of America I know.
There is something called society. We live in one (most of us do, anyway). To live in a society, there has to be laws. Laws are for the greater good of people. People got tired of dying of lung cancer from second-hand smoke (food servers and bar tenders, in particular). So laws were created to protect THE PEOPLE. Now, smokers can’t smoke in restaurants, bars, malls. Second-hand smoke lung cancer plunged. People live healthier. It MAKES SENSE.
Yet carrying an automatic weapon to go shopping at JC Penney is okay, even lauded, by people because some guy is making a point? How grotesque and insensitive and so horribly, horribly wrong. He’s not making a point. He’s being an asshat. He’s infringing on my rights to live in a world where my kids don’t have to grow up thinking they’re only safe with an AK-47 slung around their shoulders.
He's saying to every parent of those children who died, "Yeah. But nobody's getting my gun because my individual right to carry a gun whose only purpose is to murder people is more important than your child's life."
So, here I’ve got a little quiz for those happy automatic weapon toters out there:
- Do you have a nuclear warhead in your shed?
- Do you have an F-15 jet in your garage?
- Do you have a missile launcher? (Not the pansy-ass stuff, but I’m talking the real deal)?
- Do you have a stealth bomber?
- Do you have an assault helicopter?
Well, then, guess what? Your 2nd Amendment Rights are being violated. Historically speaking, the 2nd Amendment guaranteed that people could overthrow their government. Yep. That’s it. The Brits didn’t want Americans (then Brits) to have guns and then there was oppression and tea parties and Paul Revere’s ride “The British are coming! The British are coming!” (Somebody tell Sarah Palin, okay?) and Washington’s Christmas attack. Nifty stuff. Today, unless you’re some backwoods farmer with a silo-turned-missile gadget, your rights are being violated.
So people are all worked up about the history of the last century and the Germans turning on their people and the Bosnians and a whole slew of other oppressors. WAKE THE HELL UP! Hello, Facebook. Hello, Egypt and Lybia and this wonderful, crazy thing called the information age. There’s no freaking way a government will turn on its people without the whole world tweeting about it in mili-moments. Christ, we had to hear about Snooki's book deal (which still chafes me, btw) …
I live in what most people consider to be a dangerous country. Colombians, in the past sixty or seventy years, have lived through war, the rise of guerilla groups, paramilitary groups, mob violence similar to the Al Capone days, and more. They were prisoners to violence for many years.
In fact, I don’t know a single Colombian whose life hasn’t been touched by the violence. Not a single one. That’s not an exaggeration. Every friend of mine has had his or her life touched by kidnappings, extortion, bombings, mob violence and more. Every. Single. Friend.
My fellow Colombians are horrified at the violence in the States. Frankly, I am, too. They say to me, “Man, you guys are messed up.”
Yeah. I kind of think the same.
You see, if we were to read about a massacre like this that took place in Sudan or Chad or any other country, we’d shout and demand the UN intervene. We’d scream genocide – that’s what it was – and make a call for international action. But we don’t because there’s an incredibly powerful lobby group, the NRA, that pours money into congress and a swathe of the population who believe that when twenty children die, they have a right to carry an automatic gun because it’s their 2nd Amendment Right.
Nobody wants to take away rifles, pistols and hunting guns -- whatever kinds of guns hunters (of animals, ducks and such, use). How can we believe that raising children in a culture of violence, teaching them they’re only safe with armed guards and bullet proof glass, is the only way? That’s not living. That’s becoming prisoners of a culture of violence. Colombians have gone through that, lived through it, and are coming out of it. I was here for part of that Colombian history when things were pretty bad. Trust me, the culture of violence is not the way to raise our kids.So let's think about what an automatic weapon does: It kills people. The shootings at Sandy Hook probably couldn't have been avoided. However, instead of mourning twenty-six people, we might be mourning six. It's time to put the Rambo ego aside and start a dialogue that makes sense. It's time to start working toward meaningful regulations on automatic weapons and stop the knee-jerk reactions.
And it's time to honor those children and educators that died. Please, take the time to put aside our personal agendas and say the names of these children and educators out loud. Scream them to the stars. December 14th, astronauts, teachers, mechanics, actors, shadow chasers, bubble blowers, jungle gym champions, nurses, fire fighters, farmers, scientists, ballet dancers, and professional athletes died.
Dawn Hochsprung (principal), 47
Mary Sherlach (school psychologist), 56
Victoria Soto (first grade teacher), 27
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Rachel Davino, 29
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeline F. Hsu, 6
Catherine V Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Emile Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Lauren Russeau, 30
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6