I don’t ever. EVER. want to hear the phrase “thoughts and prayers” again.
I know I’m not alone in that despairing, yet angry, sentiment.
The thoughts and prayers of our NRA-owned lawmakers aren’t doing a damned thing for the ever-increasing numbers of human beings whose lives are permanently shattered every day by gun violence.
In a day or two the Florida school shooting will fade away, and Americans will collectively forget (with help from our lawmakers who insist “now is not the time” to talk about it) and move on to the next outrage. And then, in a week or so the next shooting will occur and the cycle will start again.
We’re clearly a broken nation. Our government “shuts down” on a regular basis – a glaring symptom of that broken-ness. If lawmakers can’t even manage to keep our institutions running, they definitely can’t tackle a problem as multi-faceted and powder keg-hot as gun violence.
I am convinced there is no one solution to our self-inflicted national shame. Blaming mental illness won’t do it (especially since that’s just a convenient talking point, with no intention of actually helping the mentally ill – who, by the way, are rarely the perpetrators of violence). Turning our schools and offices into heavily armed fortresses won’t do it. More restrictive gun laws alone won’t do it. Increased gun ownership sure as hell won’t do it, though the NRA and gun manufacturers would have you believe otherwise.
All of the commonly discussed (and routinely forgotten) options are technical solutions to one gigantic whopper of an adaptive challenge.
This kind of challenge obviously has no clear-cut answer. It requires listening and learning. It’s the work of many, many concerned people – not just the power-hungry people we elect to do the work of governing. It requires the ability to try new things, act experimentally. It will take a long, long time, in which we’d have to settle for progress rather than a quick fix.
In other words, the cure for our broken nation and its love affair with guns requires wisdom and intense effort on the part of every single citizen.
That prognosis isn’t merely daunting; it feels pretty much impossible. Quite honestly, I don’t think we’re up to the task.
But if I want to manage my own despair, I’ve got to do what I can. That starts with writing every single one of my local and national lawmakers to insist they work for change. Considering that my state has some of the most dangerous gun laws in the nation, that action feels rather futile. But it’s something I am capable of doing.
I have a small amount of disposable income that I can choose to donate to an organization such as Moms Demand Action or Everytown. I’ll contribute, though again it’s a gesture designed more to maintain my mental health than to actually create change.
I ask you, friends, in all sincerity: What will you do? Please share your thoughts.