Some days just absolutely knock me to the ground in stunned despair. On a good day for most of us, it is often a challenge being a parent, spouse, child, sibling, friend, educator (we are all teachers and learners even if not formally trained), care-giver and kind human being. Navigating an aging parent with Alzheimer’s, maintaining a company from a home office, keeping living beings alive, finding time for self-care (what does that actually look like?), cooking meals, running errands, doing homework, helping friends, assisting neighbors, writing, working on causes, making calls to politicians, sanitizing a house in a lingering pandemic…daily meanderings I take for granted. But as this next week starts, so many have no daily meanderings to take for granted.
I don’t know about you but I’m still numb, sore, bruised, and bleeding from last week. Challenging dental work aside last Tuesday, the devastating news in our country unfolding as I sat in the dental parking lot listening to NPR polarized me. My thought processes were numb from failed comprehension of who/what/why/how again and again and again. My eyes and nose were sore from ugly snot-sobbing. My soul was bruised from so many losses in a repeated way. My heart bled uncontrollably for grieving communities. As an educator, a former school principal, and one repeatedly trained in school crisis response, I quickly filled to my brim with shards of overwhelming anger, profound sadness, and raw fear. If you are as well, I am so sorry. I see and feel your sharp edges of pain.
There is much to say, yet no words to say it. There is much pontificated, yet no action for change. There is much promised, yet only broken promises remain. We just keep coming back to the same insanity and expecting different outcomes while innocent lives are lost over and over and over and over again. Quite frankly, there will never be enough time or energy for more marching, donating, phone-banking, or card-writing to make this better. Period.
How is it we still keep showing up at this same unbelievable place and we still do nothing to change the pace or place for the better? Why should our children and future generations believe us? Who actually feels safe in their own home knowing assault weapons may be loaded and ready for use by your next-door neighbor? Instead of always pointing fingers (remember, three are always pointing back to you anyway), when do we finally take reasonable action to mitigate further opportunities? Few demand total gun control; we have a Constitutional Amendment to ensure this right. What is advocated is reasonable gun safety, gun responsibility, and gun “common sense” for our country. Leave the military weapons and weapons of mass destruction to “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.”
In addition to the indescribable pain from ongoing tragedies of these past few weeks, there is additional pain triggered for all who have previously lost a loved one to prior violence in our schools, markets, theaters, places of worship, streets, homes, gathering spaces, and more. These places, in theory, should be safe, yet why is it so many in our country can never put the shattered pieces of their hearts, souls, and lives back together because they were unsafe due to repeated mass shootings? There are more guns than people in the US. We’ve had over 200 mass shootings and 27 school shootings so far in 2022. Pause a moment to acknowledge this gut-wrenching fact as it sinks deeply into your soul. Everything is on the line at this moment of our collective history. We are the only country in the world with these staggering statistics. And the world is watching and taking notes. We, the United States of America, “one nation under God,” are a nation in trouble at every level and in every way. No one, no one is safe.
Tomorrow on Memorial Day as we do each May, we officially honor and pay tribute to those who sacrificed all for the good of their beloved country. We remember those who lost their very lives giving each of us the opportunity to live our lives in a country of so much possibility. Accepting this current status quo, this cycle of social brokenness, this complete denial of repeated issues is unacceptable. We must move forward. We must reverse denial. We must show up, pay attention, seek to speak truth, and allow the real work of change to occur. We know better and must do better; in this very moment. Compromise and partisanship on the part of ALL elected officials and ALL political leaders is the start of this change. Americans (especially children) deserve to be placed first before any political careers or agendas (new campaign reform and term limits would also assist in this requisite). Nothing else is acceptable moving forward. Those who previously fought and gave their lives for these American freedoms are owed the same dignity, strength, and courage in this moment of our country’s history as they did in their final moment sacrificing their life.
As I work to pick up the emotional pieces, lament the evil and sin, and search for Divine Mercy, hope emerges slowly. Hope, Faith, and Love, especially UNconditional Love, gently nudge me to realize overwhelming good exists when we allow for the common good. I affirm I am a strong, loving, committed soul who is willing to say out loud it must change. Change is now. We cannot and should not continue on the current path; a new path on this journey is possible, and most frankly, expected moving forward. And as a dear friend reminds me, “There is so much work to do…families to comfort, children to reassure, and political leaders to remind…we’ll march, donate, call, write, and show up; yes, we will.” Yes; I will continue to do all these too-familiar things. And gratefully, as my daddy always notes, “Hope springs eternal.” May we each find our own deep well of dignity, strength, and courage to make it so this time. Yes; may it be so THIS time; may it be so…
Personal note: Emotions run high when our sensibilities are challenged. Writing is one way I process my anxiety. I have other coping mechanisms and cling to the Divine along with my beloved family / friends for hope in the sorrows and joys of life. While I also remain grateful for the freedoms we have according to our Constitution; it is time to update the law. I choose to support two combined organizations close to this hot topic: http://www.everytown.org and http://www.momsdemandaction.org Most importantly, I vote. Whatever your choice, please make your own voice heard and make a voting plan to have your voice and vote counted. Every election matters because you, your voice, and your vote matter.