Today I am taking to the blog to tackle a very serious, very painful issue. All quirky joking aside. We have a VERY REAL problem ruining our nation, destroying our sense of safety. This is NOT a political post. I really don’t care if you identify as a Democrat or Republican, if you voted for Obama or you support Trump. I do not care. Let me repeat that again — I DO NOT CARE. Because this isn’t about politics. This is about pain. This is about heartbreak. This is about loss. This is about being AFRAID. Afraid AF!
Yes, we have a real gun control problem in our country. The weapons of the Constitution are not the rapid fire death machines Americans currently have access to. While people have the right to be armed, as Americans, we also have the right to feel safe. And right now, we don’t. We pretend we do to make it through the day, but we don’t.
We have a REAL problem with hate in our country. A divisive hate that needs to be admonished. But despite what everyone thinks, this hate isn’t to blame on one person. Hate has existed for centuries. And unfortunately, until we ban together for the safety of our children, hate will continue to exist. When Obama was President, I couldn’t understand how a Black man in power wouldn’t admonish fellow Black Americans from hating the police, from rioting. He never outrightly opted to quiet the nation’s anger and spread the message of love. There was no real solution to end police brutality against people of color nor was there anything done to stop the violent rioting and anger. He never united the nation on that issue. And he could have done it. I truly believe he could have done it. I wish he did.
And now we have Trump whose daughter and grandchildren are Jewish and he says he supports Israel, yet he’s doing nothing to end the anti-semitism that’s spreading far and wide in our country. Let me be clear when I say this. I spent COUNTLESS years studying the Holocaust in high school and college. Countless nights having nightmares of the atrocities I saw in books and videos. Countless mornings waking in a cold sweat because I thought my family and I were being hunted. So I speak with some authority on the topic when I say that hate cannot be disseminated by one person alone. Hitler did not destroy people and countries alone. He spoke words that had a powerful message for a people that were broken after a World War and his words resonated and with that he gained support and with that an entire clan of hate was formed and they shared his message and implemented his plan.
So what’s the answer. Part of the answer is that the people in power need to do a MUCH better job of using their power to spread kindness and acceptance and understanding. Acts of hate need to be admonished more seriously. Part of the answer is understanding that one small act of kindness can leave a lasting impact and can incite someone else to perpetuate kindness. Part of the answer is recognizing that there is a VERY strong stigma against mental health problems in this country and that needs to be addressed. If we learned anything from the countless suicides in the early part of the year, it’s that we as a nation need to give the mentally ill and the depressed the right to say that they are struggling without judgement…. I will share more thoughts on this in an upcoming blog. We need to have strong gun control laws that DO NOT allow “persons of interest” or mentally ill people to buy assault rifles. In fact, no one needs an assault rifle. If an intruder breaks into your home, a simple (ugh!) handgun would suffice, no? You definitely don’t need 100 rounds in minutes. That seems just downright ludicrous and there’s no swaying my opinion on that one.
Part of the answer, which I believe is a BIG part of the problem, is the news. The ratings. The reporting on the hate. It’s time we stop glorifying mass murderers by putting their names in bold in the paper. By highlighting their faces on the evening news. By sharing their stories. Instead, let’s share the stories of the victims. Let’s share how we can be the change. Let’s share more stories of kindness. Let’s let LOVE and KINDNESS be the big story of the week, the month, the year.
And then there’s the idea that in our country, there’s a credo that we must wait until an act of hate or an act of terror occurs before we can act. Today, my best friend mentioned that there’s a creepy guy in her neighborhood that shares anti-semitic slurs whenever he can, says threatening things, etc., but because he’s never physically assaulted anyone or destroyed anyone’s personal property, the police have no recourse to deal with him. So she said her neighbors live in fear for the one day when he does and it’s too late to stop him.
This week, we lost more young people, again to gun violence. The gun is the weapon. The person behind the gun is the problem. And it’s a problem we CAN fix if we work harder to amend the laws. It’s a problem we can fix if we teach our children kindness versus hate. It’s a problem we can fix if we understand mental health issues and help those suffering deal with their problems, their anger, their uncertainty.
We have ENOUGH scary things to worry about in this world. We shouldn’t have to worry about being murdered by gun violence. Or worse, we shouldn’t have to worry that our children will go to school or to a bar or to a concert and never return home because one enraged person, one struggling person, one hateful person decided to lash out in the worst way possible.
When I was a child, I was often afraid of being abducted. I don’t know if it’s because I watched too many TV specials or read the Milk Carton books too often, but I was always afraid someone would grab me and I would disappear. While I will admit that I still sometimes have that fear, now as a mother, my fears are MUCH bigger. And I know I am not alone in that. My friends and I always worry about our kids — are they eating enough, sleeping enough, socializing well? Do they have friends? Are they being kind? Are they wearing a helmet? Are they looking both ways? Are they being mindful of their surroundings? Do they understand stranger danger? Do they know not to stand too close to the road in case a drunk or mindless driver swerves? Do they know what to do in a fire? Do they know what to do during a lockdown procedure? Will they remember my advice? Will they be able to protect themselves? Do they know I love them? Do they forgive me for yelling?
And you know what? While many of the things on this list are the direct result of parents wearing their hearts on the outside of their bodies once their children are born, the idea that we live in fear of sending our children to school is insane! School is the one place where we should ALWAYS feel safe to send our children. I often wonder when I enter the building, now beefed up with extra security, will they one day buzz in the wrong person? Or the right person who does wrong? My best friend is afraid to take her girls to a show in a large arena because she doesn’t feel safe? When I go to the movies I wonder, where could I hide if I needed to?
The idea that we can no longer feel safe to protect ourselves let alone our children is beyond alarming. I for one am done with it. I pray that the latest shooting (which I’ve purposely avoided on the news as much as I can), will FORCE all the newly elected officials to make REAL change. To work harder to give us our sense of safety back. To make it that our grandchildren don’t have to worry about lock-down drills and what will happen if a “bad person” gets into the school. Because the thought of my four year old and my six year old and my nine year old having to hide with classmates in a closet during a drill makes me want to throw up and never let my children leave my sight.
But it’s with determination and a large sense of anxiety that we all know we cannot live in that type of fear. We need to push forward every day. We need to run our errands, go to work, go to school. Life must continue. But this MUST be a wake-up call for our country to put an end to the divisive bitterness that enables such rage and hate to exist and WORK TOGETHER to ensure the safety of our children.
So with that I leave you with the powerful message to spread kindness whenever you can, wherever you can, however you can.