Pulse. Sandy Hook. San Bernadino. Aurora. Faces from “just” four of the mass shootings in the past couple of years. You’d think the the numbers would be enough to propel the most urgent decisive action our government has ever taken. I keep going back to the faces.
What will it take?
I think back to how unbelievably fast we declared war after 9/11. How thanks to the swift security changes in the wake of that attack, we can’t bring bottled water onto airplanes. But any one of us could go buy an assault rifle in a parking lot for $500 tomorrow. No background check, no license, no training, no nothing.
How many lives?
I know nothing I share here will change things, and it’s hard to know how to stay hopeful in the face of something I can’t even find a word for. I’d call it “Congress,” but even that implies some kind of unified body. The body of this country is so far beyond unified; it’s torn to pieces, limb from limb. The body of this country has never been whole.
How do those “no” voters sleep at night?
I keep having this awful thought, about what kind of shooting (as if there are different kinds of shootings) would lead to some change. I shudder at the thought of it, but can’t help but wonder what it would take to get the attention of the senators who voted against efforts to pass gun laws. Again.
College campuses. Secondary schools. Shopping malls. Movie theaters.
This morning, the produce section. I counted 27 people. I looked at their faces. I wondered when the next shooting will happen. Tears pricked the backs of my eyes.
How long till the next time? Where? When?
I looked at the people’s faces, the ones I saw in the grocery store. I looked at their clothes. Their tattoos. Their hat insignias. Their wheelchairs. Their baby strollers. Their skin color. Their hairstyles. Their t-shirt emblems. Their shoes. I looked at the guy with nothing but Twinkies in his cart, and the woman nursing in the little seating area. I wondered who they will vote for, what they stand for, who their families are, what their eyes have seen. And I could not know, could not have any idea, what they believe. Whether or how they will vote.
I thought, this is how we coexist. By not talking about these things in public spaces, like grocery stores. This is how we coexist, by not asking each other, what have you seen? What do you stand for? Not exchanging this kind of information in public spaces keeps public spaces safe — or so we think.
But I also thought, this is how we erode each other’s humanity. By not talking about these things in public spaces. By going about our own business as if each other’s business didn’t matter. As if our lives didn’t depend on it.
And maybe that’s part of the problem. We don’t really believe our lives depend on it. Who is “we” and who is “they”? Who am I to cry out, and who am I not to?
How many? How many black and brown and gay and trans bodies will this country throw away? How many children’s lives?