American UnExceptionalism

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Stop your crying. Hold your faux thoughts and prayers. Raise those flags back to full mast. This is our American heritage. What “we, the people” have chosen to accept. The dreams of our ancestors transformed into our children’s worst nightmare. The words of our founding fathers distorted by the echoes of rapid fire semiautomatic blasts. The experiment in individual freedom and self-governance snuffed out by tribal interests and corporate lobbyists.

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,” “animals,” “enemies,” and worse. So long as we see targets and avatars in our crosshairs, rather than sons and daughters,

This is us.

So long as a pro-life agenda only includes the unborn the living will be expendable. So long as we debate whether gun lockers have a greater right to privacy than our daughter’s privates. We maintain that the 2nd Amendment is absolute and unequivocal, but act to curtail and reverse the guaranteed freedoms of the 1st, 4th and 5th. So long as it is harder to purchase allergy medicine then it is a bullet,

This is us.

So long as we sling false equivalents that fail to differentiate between those who protest for equality and freedom, with those who represent hatred and ignorance. So long as we see the good in klansmen, neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Promote and legitimize their message of hate and violence. So long as we conflate the history of the Confederacy with that of the United States,

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 will otherwise allow. Erect a permanent caste system. So long as we are “haves and have nots” and are labeled an “us”or “them,”

This is us.

So long as we allow the bully to play the role of victim. So long as we censor and shame the whistle blower and shield the accused. Enable and fail to hold the criminal to evade account. So long as we value celebrity and fame over character and virtue,

This is us.

So long as we falsely equate the child in the hoodie, hijab, yarmulke or Che tee with the ones wearing the white hood, cloaked in the sweater vest, draped in the Confederate flag, or adorned with the swastika tattoo,

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 delay student loan reform,

This is us.

So long as we are persuaded by “alternative facts,” slogans, and double speak but tune out science, photographic evidence, and statistics. So long as ratings driven entertainment is consumed as a “fair and balanced” news source,

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. So long as oligarchs prioritize profits over people and individual tax savings over the public good,

This is us.

So long as we profess that Earth and all its things were created by God but deny global warming, pollute our waterways with plastics, rollback environmental protections and drill baby drill,

This is us.

So long as we are 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.

Trigger Warning

Read it and weep. This is our American heritage. What “we, the people” have chosen to accept. The dreams of our ancestors transformed into our children’s worst nightmare. The words of our founding fathers distorted by the echos of rapid fire semiautomatic blasts. The experiment in individual freedom and self-governance snuffed out by tribal interests and corporate lobbyists.

Virginia Tech University, Virgina: April 16, 2007 – 32 dead, 17 wounded – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Fort Hood, Texas: November 5, 2009 – 13 dead, 30 wounded – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Newtown, Connecticut: December 14, 2012 – 26 dead, 2 wounded – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

San Bernardino, California: December 2, 2015 – 14 dead, 22 wounded – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Orlando, Florida: June 12, 2016 – 49 dead, 58 wounded – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Las Vegas, Nevada: October 1, 2017 – 59 dead, 527 wounded – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Sutherland Springs, Texas: Nov. 5, 2017 – 26 dead, 20 wounded – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Parkland, Florida: February 14, 2018 – 17 dead, 19 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Santa Fe High School, Texas: May 18, 2018 – 10 dead, 14 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Thousand Oaks, California: November 7, 2018 – 13 dead, 16 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: October 27, 2018 – 11 dead, 6 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Virginia Beach, Virginia: May 31, 2019 – 13 dead, 4 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

El Paso, Texas: August 3, 2019 – 23 dead, 23 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Dayton, Ohio: August 4, 2019 – 10 dead, 27 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Boulder, Colorado: March 22, 2021 – 10 dead, 2 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

San Jose, California: May 26, 2021 – 10 dead, 0 njured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Buffalo, NY: May 14, 2022 – 10 dead, 3 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Uvalde, Texas: May 24, 2022 – 21 dead, 3 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Too soon? Too soon for whom exactly? The tens of thousands of victims of gun violence who died waiting for the opportune time to speak? Cognitive dissonance aside, more like “too late.”

When exactly is the right time to have this conversation anyway? We’ve been waiting more than 12 years. Turns out there’s been a victim of gun violence each and every one of those days so apparently the time is never right. The GOP will always portray Democrats as the opportunist liberals politicizing a situation.

Well let’s make this clear. This isn’t about politics. There are fanatics on all sides. No political party, religion, race or creed has a monopoly on crazy. What we must do is come together and devise common sense ways to keep instruments of terror out of these domestic terrorist’s evil hands.

This is about common sense, free will, rationality, and basic human decency. There is never a need for a civilian to own an “assault” rifle. Never a point in legalizing the means to create fully automatic weapons of mass destruction. No justification for one individual to own dozens of firearms. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. We owe it to each other to act #EnoughIsEnough #ProtestTheGOP

The Sunken Place

I find myself once again plunged into the sunken place. The echo of the gunshots as they ring through the halls of our schools must mimic the sound of a spoon clinking gently against a delicate teacup. Transports my psyche to that powerless place from which we can observe, but not act.

By now I should know better than to fight it. To scream out the answers that will go unheard. That will be met with thoughts and prayers. To demand sensible gun control and comprehensive reform. To highlight the fallacy of the 2nd Amendment, the analogies to traffic laws, the hypocrisy of pro-lifers.

By now I should know to temper my 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 I’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 I’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?”

Perhaps that’s the plan. To normalize these school shootings to such a degree that we accept them as inevitable. Abandon efforts at prevention in favor of those that mitigate damage instead. Redesign our schoolyards to more closely resemble a prison yard. Arm our teachers and security officers to better control threats. Relax our rights of privacy to allow for profiling and stop and frisk of suspicious groups. Enhance communications to allow for quicker response times.

Let me be clear. They may expect that but it will never happen. To settle for that is a disservice to our children and future generations. It is to spit on the graves of our founding fathers. To admit that fear trumps freedom.

Do not give into those impulses. This fight is too important. They may want you to perceive that this fight is in unwinnable, that it requires compromise, but reality tells us otherwise. We’ve seen what happened in Australia when they resolved to solve the core issue. We know the success Japan, Europe and most of the civilized world has had in implementing common sense reform.

The feeling of helplessness you may experience today is real, but so long as you continue to have breath there is hope. So long as you continue to observe, you have a voice. A way to “Get Out” of the sunken place. So long as a even a small part of you exists you have a choice.

Choose to keep reaching for those tissues.

Choose to keep screaming from the abyss and asking the relevant questions.

Choose to keep demanding action of our leaders and common sense gun control.

Choose to protect our future and to act a patriot.

Choose to #MarchForOurLives #Uvalde