By Now…

By now we should know better than to fight it. To scream out the answers that will go unheard. That will be met with thoughts and prayers by our elected leaders. To demand sensible gun control and comprehensive reform. To highlight the fallacy of absolutist of the Second Amendment, the analogies to traffic laws, the hypocrisy of pro-lifers.

By now we should know to temper our expectations. Realize that it is naive to think the slaughter of our children will awaken our elected leaders from their slumber. Foolish to hope it will remind them that their responsibility is to serve and protect “we, the people,” not the monied interests of corporations and NRA lobbyists. Understand that it will always be “too soon.” That thoughts and prayers is all they will ever offer.

By now you’d think we’d have grow immune to the pain. Indifferent to the sorrow the friends and families of the victims must feel. Hardened to the feelings of empathy that awash me as parents reunite with their kids; devastated for the ones who never will.

By now you would think we’d cease correcting the reporters each time they referred to the disturbed gunman. Each report in which they refused to brand the latest act of domestic terrorism as such. Failed to identify the undeniable trend among the perpetrators. To ask the obvious, “where were they radicalized?”

By now we know that’s the plan. To normalize these school shootings to such a degree that we accept them as inevitable. That we embrace our gun control culture and seek alternative avenues to solve the issue. Ignore the weapons and no abandon efforts at prevention in favor of those that mitigate damage instead. Redesign our schoolyards to more closely resemble a single entrance prison yard. Arm our teachers and security officers to better control threats and behavior. Relax our rights of privacy to allow for profiling and stop and frisk of whatever suspicious group du jour. Enhance communications to allow for quicker response times among emergency responders.

By now we know that this fight is too important. Have come to understand that they may want us to perceive that this fight is unwinnable, that it requires compromise, but the reality tells us otherwise.

By now we’ve seen sensible gun control efforts work in civilized and “free” societies throughout the globe. We’ve seen the near elimination of domestic mass shootings in countries that once faced similar violence. We’ve seen the various extreme ways common sense reform may work, from the near elimination of individual gun ownership in Australia to the tightly regulated but right to bear arms efforts in Japan.

By now we should know that it’s only a matter of a time. That you can’t stop progress. That the future has arrived and we must follow its lead of the children who have grown tired of our inaction. Who have seen the errors of our ways. Who have grown tired of reaching for the tissues, hiding in the corners, mourning their friends and waiting for the right time. Who are reaching the age of majority and marching for OUR lives. Who are ready and able to engage directly; committed to vote, to ask the relevant questions, to demand the necessary action of our leaders.

By now we should take solace and courage in the knowledge that we are the majority. That when harnessed the power of the people should never be underestimated. That we have the power to end this cycle, protect future generations, and enact common sense gun control.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/indiana-school-shooting-latest-noblesville-today-shooter-middle-school-gun-a8369336.html

This Is Us

We never learn, we been here before. Why are we always stuck and running from the bullets, the bullets? Just stop your crying it’s a sign of the times. We gotta get away from here. We gotta get away from here. Just stop your crying it’ll be alright. They told me that the end is near. We gotta get away from here” – Harry Styles

A modern day Bob Dylan he’s not, but the man who my five year old daughter described as having “the most beautiful lips,” perfectly captures Trump’s America.

Stop your crying. Hold your faux thoughts and prayers. Raise those flags back to full mast.

This is us.

So long as we continue to dehumanize minorities, outsiders and those who look different. So long as we characterize them as “rapists,” “shithole countries,” “animals,” “enemies,” and worse,

This is us.

So long as we allow those in power to divide our nation into two camps. Secure a status quo long past the point demographics would allow, to erect a permanent caste system. So long as we are “haves and have nots” and are labeled as an “us”or “them,”

This is us.

So long as the leaders of our nation think it acceptable to bully, threaten, tweet racist dog whistles, and challenge one another to school yard brawls. So long as we elect those who deride a Civil Rights icon on social media but silently accept the endorsement of hatemongers, white supremacists and nationalists,

This is us.

So long as we falsely equate the child in the hoodie, hijab, yarmulke or Che tee with the one in the white hood, sweater vest, Confederate flag, or swastika tattoo. So long as we rip child from parent at our borders in the name of law and order,

This is us.

So long as we build walls instead of bridges. Invest in war instead of education and research grants. So long as we celebrate “American exceptionalism” but oppose student loan reform,

This is us.

So long as “we, the people” includes Goldman Sachs, Halliburton, Monsanto and Boeing and not every Trayvon, Fatima, Ellen, Matthew, and Mohammed,

This is us.

So long as we rely on the sources that broke the Bowling Green Massacre, but dub the ones that broke Watergate as “fake news,”

This is us.

So long as we are persuaded by “alternative facts,” slogans, and double speak but tune out science, photographic evidence, and statistics,

This is us.

So long as we buy the empty promises about the wonders of trickle down economics and reject efforts to raise the minimum wage,

This is us.

So long as we profess that Earth and all its things were created by God but deny global warming, pollute our rivers and drill baby drill,

This is us.

So long as we debate whether gun lockers have a greater right to privacy than our daughter’s privates. So long as we lobby that the 2nd Amendment is absolute and unequivocable, but tweet against and act to curtail the 1st and 4th,

This is us.

So long as we offer thoughts and prayers for all of God’s children, but sit nearly silent as antisemitism, Islamaphobia, and hate crimes are committed in her name,

This is us.

So long as we declare “Mission Accomplished” all while knowing it has hardly begun,

This is us.

So long as we’re more offended by the black athlete who uses his celebrity to kneel in silent protest for equality than we are the white Christian billionaire who use his bully pulpit to disparage an immigrant nation,

This is us.

https://www.newsandguts.com/link/nation-senator-jeff-merkley-saw-immigrant-detention-center-children/

The Strength of Adversity

My grandpa used to say you only appreciate what you have once it’s gone. As I observe the policies being pushed by our so called President and this merry bannon of deplorables I realize how true that is. My generation grew complacent. We took our freedom for granted, grew cocky. Unlike prior generations ours was never forced to sacrifice for this nation. We sat on the sidelines as others less fortunate served on our behalf, committed to public service. Our best and brightest eschewed politics for the private sector. Unwilling to fight the special interests and ingrained bureaucracy. We neglected our constitutional responsibility. Our roles as citizens of a Democratic Republic. The need to stay engaged. The necessity of informed consent.

As it turns out freedom is hard to sustain if you’ve never known its opposite. This wasn’t always the case. As recently as the 1960s our youth understood how fragile freedom was. The baby boomers and flower children of the counter revolution. The hippies and beatniks who protested American intervention in Vietnam, marched for equal rights and demanded transparency of a corrupt government. They fought, sacrificed and died defending America’s soul. In the end history smiled on them and recognized them as heroes of progress. The students of Kent State, the marchers in Salem, Muhammad Ali being stripped of his championship, MLK, Woodward and Bernstein, Rosa Parks….

These were the patriots who moved our nation forward and progressed us to the point where a Barack Obama could be elected President, see a Hillary Clinton win the popular vote. It was they who allowed the Gen Xers and Millenials of today to fall into the trap of overconfidence. They shielded my generation in the audacity of hope. Insulated us in a bubble filled with dreams of a brighter future for all. A belief and awareness that though far from perfect, we were a free people. Unaware of what its like to live through and with real adversity.

In reality, they turned us soft and cynical. Who can fault them? America was a dream founded on hope and optimism. A continuing quest to form a more perfect union centered on the concept of individual liberty. A land of exceptionalism to serve as a beacon of hope and freedom to the world’s oppressed. Heck “Operation Enduring Freedom” was the landmark conflict of our generation. No surprise we were nose blind to the stench of the emerging kakistocracy.

A new normal is starting to emerge. An unknown adversity beginning to seep over our old routines like an infestation. The daily attacks on a free and independent press. The restrictions on the right of assembly. The merging of church and state and suddenly slippery slope placed on the right to be free from religious persecution. The dismantling of checks and balance. The refusal to perform even routine vetting of the sycophants and “yes (mostly) men” being placed in control of our collective national security. The wag the dog foreign policy, trade wars, and alienation of our traditional allies and refusal to condemn Russia and other hostile actors. The tweetstorms, bullying, false equivalents and continued normalization of hate. The willful blindness and acrobatic feats in cognitive dissonance as our leaders attempt to normalize the inexplicable.

The good news is Americans are waking! Our youth are waking to the dangers this regime poses on the very freedoms they once took for granted. They feel the adversity in their life. The impacts of growing up in constant fear that each day may be your last. That a terrorist attack, a nuclear bomb, a random gunman or maybe even a police officer is always just around the corner.

That fear is driving them to discover what America is truly about. As their friends and loved ones face deportation and harassment they are forced to confront the truth. To understand that we are the great melting pot. That we have a responsibility to take care of one another. To stay informed and engaged. That diversity IS the American identity. We can’t change that anymore than a tiger can change its stripes. A list of all the great contributions immigrants and refugees have made to this country would dwarf a list of their misdeeds a million times over.

This is not to say we will come to appreciate Donald Trump, but when all is said and done we will be stronger because of him. As a nation. As a people. Adversity does that. It builds character and empathy. It challenges preconceived notions and erases ignorance born by privilege and circumstance. It forces you to grow resilient, battle tested, and breathes self-confidence into your bones with the knowledge that you can defeat it. That you will persevere past it. Live beyond it. Reclaim your freedom. Outgrow it.

By definition progress knows but one direction. It’s only a matter of time #Forward

Where were they radicalized

More people have died in schools than military service members in 2018. The Santa Fe High School massacre was the 22nd school terror attack this year.

31,000 Americans are victims of gun violence each year.

More than 188,000 students have been exposed to gun violence at school since Columbine.

Let’s be clear. America has a domestic terrorism problem. We must confront that fact with the same urgency we rightfully demand of Muslim leaders. Whether we like it or not, the threat is similar. A once fringe fanatical minority of the population uses horrific acts of violence to gain recognition. Begins to disproportionately represent the greater whole.

While sensible gun control and the means to prevent these terrorists from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction is part of the solution, it is not the whole solution. As a society, we also need to take a hard look at what drove each new perpetrator to commit such heinous acts. What would motivate these overwhelming number of young, white, males to have such a blatant disregard for human life. We need to ask ourselves, “where were they radicalized?”

Interventions are messy so let’s start off with some basic housekeeping. Perception is not reality and our leaders, regardless of party, have a responsibility to shape perception to match reality. The truth sometimes hurts to hear. That doesn’t mean we ignore it. That means speaking truth regardless of personal consequence. In other words, you may hate me for what I’m about to say, but I’m going to say it anyway.

So let me put this out there. This has nothing to do with politics. Look at Donald Trump’s words. Log into twitter and review his timeline of tweets. It is repulsive. You’d be ashamed of your child if that was the method they used to become class President let alone leader of the free world. Behavior matters. Over time a team’s culture begins to take on the personality of its leader. The same is true of our country. For some time our politicians have sought to divide this country’s people. Define and separate us into red or blue camps, liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. Networks and news media devoted to one side or the other.

In recent years this tendency to divide and insulate the electorate has reached dangerous heights. People automatically placed into “us” and “them” camps as Chris Christie so famously did in the 2012 RNC convention. Donald Trump himself escalating the rhetoric as leader of the unconscionable birther moment. The opposition no longer portrayed as reasonable politicians with whom the goal is compromise, but as unAmerican enemies of the people. The goal no longer to reach a deal but to “crush,” bury,” and “own” the opposition.

When you dehumanize people, treat them as less than human. When you use your platform to characterize people who live within our shores as “animals,” as unworthy of the basic inalienable rights bestowed upon all men, you create a culture of indifference. You birth a generation that is losing the ability to empathize. That sees targets and avatars in their crosshairs rather than sons and daughters. You create an expectation of violence and bloodshed. You spit on the vision of our founding fathers and blasphemy the words of our Declaration of Independence. The essential truths set forth therein.

When you draw false equivalents between those who protest for equality and freedom with those who represent hatred and ignorance. Who use tiki torches and strap assault rifles to their bodies to intimidate and snuff out those who seek progress. When you see the good in klansmen, neo-Nazis and white supremacists you give voice to the fringe of society. You enable their message of hate and violence. Allow those who hate for other reasons, who feel excluded, isolated and left out to rationalize their desires.

When you bow to the statues of confederate soldiers, display the hate filled flag on your pick up truck, and conflate the history of the Confederacy with that of the United States you deny the American dream. When you name call, cyberbully, race bait and shame people based on their looks you encourage our kids to do the same. To separate themselves from those they don’t like and humiliate them for it. When a pro- life agenda only includes the unborn, the living become expendable.

We reap what we sow. This is not a problem that can be prayed away. There are no alternative facts. The time for cognitive dissonance, for denial, is past. Save us the hypocrisy of lowering your flags to half mast. In fact, raise them Stars and Stripes high and proud instead. This is America! This is what we’ve come to accept as normal.

This is what we will remain until we elect leaders who understand, who as a nation we were founded to be. Who lead with the knowledge that the American identity exists. That the vast majority of us want the same things. That we share so many more values in common than we do ideas that tear us apart. That there is no “us” or”them”, “red” or “blue.”

From shore to shore America is comprised of Republicans, Democrats and Independents, young and old, Muslim, Christian, Jews, atheists and other, Irish, Italian, Asian, African, European and Native, scientists and clergy, gun enthusiasts and gun control advocates, men and women. We are the great melting pot. That diversity IS the American identity. We can’t change that anymore than a tiger can change its stripes. A list of all the great contributions immigrants and refugees have made to this country would dwarf a list of their misdeeds a million times over.

To solve school violence, immigration, terrorism, or even the opioid epidemic requires we all respect multiple views and ideas. It requires a change in Washington, DC. An understanding that we are a nation built on compromise, trust and acceptance. It requires leaders who lead by example. Like all problems, it will first require acknowledgment. The willingness of the people to accept that we have a problem and the courage to confront it