“I think the biggest thing is pray… Pray for the victims, pray for the families, pray that this never happens again.” ~ Florida Governor Rick Scott, when asked what Americans can do to help.
That quote made me think of a story… For just under a decade, one of the things I did for my job was teach kids about child abuse. It was one of the coolest things I have ever done. I’ve spoken to probably over 100,000 third graders about what child abuse is, the different kinds of abuse, how to prevent it, and what to do if child abuse has happened or is happening to them. It wasn’t uncommon at all for me to tear up while discussing this topic that is so, SO important to talk about with kids. After a puppet presentation where the kids had an opportunity to ask the puppets questions, we would do a closing where we went back over some of the most important points of the program. One of the things we would always do was ask the kids to name a grown up they trust who they could tell if any kind of child abuse ever happened, or was happening to them. The hands went up, and out came the names: “My mom, my dad, my teacher, my principal, my neighbor, my friend’s parent…” Lots of names of grown ups they could trust. Sometimes they would name friends or a brother or sister, and we would say, “Kids are easy to talk to, but maybe that kid could go WITH you to tell a grown up… Because it’s the grown ups who are going to get you the help that you need.”
But every once in a while, a kid would throw in a monkey wrench. We’d ask, “Who’s a grown up YOU trust who you could tell?” And the kids would look at us with completely earnest eyes and say, “Jesus.” Or sometimes, “God?” If kids gave wrong answers, we always tried to spin it, so it didn’t sound like we were saying, “Wrong, you dip shit!” But it was important–especially with the Child Abuse Program–to make sure they had the correct information. And it always felt a little awkward trying to say that *maybe* Jesus wasn’t the best person to tell… We didn’t want to be like, “Maybe it would be better to tell someone REAL.” But we always were intentional about letting them know how important it was to tell a physical person. “How about telling someone who you can touch… Someone who can pick up a telephone and call DCS… Someone who can actually DO SOMETHING to get you the help that you need so this awful stuff that has been happening never happens again.”
Orlando has had its share of tragedies these last few days… First, singer Christina Grimmie (from the show “The Voice”) was shot and killed by a deranged man while she was signing autographs after a concert in Orlando. The next night a homophobic murderer walked into a gay nightclub called Pulse, shot and killed 49 people, and wounded 53 more. Then, two days later, a two-year-old boy was snatched by an alligator while he splashed in a man-made lagoon on a Disney resort. They found his body 16 hours later. Now–these three events are all horrible and tragic and heartbreaking… But there’s only ONE of these tragedies that anyone is going to do anything substantial about in order to try to prevent it from happening again in the future. I’ll give you a hint: It ain’t either of the ones involving guns.
Listen–They are going to move Heaven and Earth to make sure something like this alligator attack never happens again. After the child went missing, they removed five alligators from the lagoon and euthanized them. They will put up so many signs around that man-made lagoon, they will put up fences, they will pass laws… They will do whatever it takes. I’d be willing to bet they will probably pass a law making it illegal to step foot in an artificial lake. It wouldn’t shock me at all if they let people legally shoot any alligators they see until there are no more alligators found in the wild in central Florida. This one random act has exposed a public health concern–however rare–that the people are insisting NEEDS to be addressed… But you know what they WON’T do??? They won’t fill that 200 acre lagoon with as many alligators as they can find. And do you know WHY? Because when you have something that is dangerous and deadly, you don’t make things safer by bringing in more of the thing that is dangerous and deadly!!!
But that is exactly the sort of plan many people are suggesting as a result of these shootings in Orlando. Whatever the problem, the NRA’s solution is “More Guns!” I’m legitimately surprised the NRA and the “The-More-Guns-The-Better” crowd is not calling for more people to arm themselves as a response to the “Deadly Alligator Crisis” that everyone needs to be very afraid of… All while NRA representatives give interviews on Fox”News” about how this could have been prevented if that toddler would have been carrying a gun…
In 2001, a terrorist failed in an attempt to detonate explosives packed into his shoes… And fifteen years later, every person who wants to get on a plane still has to take their shoes off and put them through an x-ray scanner. And honestly? I don’t mind. It’s a bit of an inconvenience, but if it help keep people safe–totally fine. And after terrorists used box cutters to take flights hostage, for a time you couldn’t even take nail clippers on a plane. But we do NOTHING as a nation to attempt to curb all this gun violence.
And any suggestions for changes in policy (other than filling the lagoon with more alligators) are met with accusations of trying to “take our guns” or “going against the 2nd Amendment.” But the people with this unlimited access to high-powered guns–and the people committing these atrocities–are not even CLOSE to being part of a “Well-Regulated Militia.” And guess what… Even though the Constitution tells us we have the right to “keep and bear arms,” that right is not universal. Civilians still can’t take guns on a plane–Not even the “good guys with a gun.” You can’t take a gun into a courtroom. At the State Capitol here in Nashville, you can’t carry your guns into Legislative Plaza… And do you know WHY? Because the lawmakers there don’t want to get shot and killed. That’s why. And now we’ve got the orange-faced, golden-coiffed Richy McPoutyBigot (the republican nominee for president) calling for allowing guns in bars… Where people are drinking and getting inebriated… What would go wrong?
At a press conference after the Orlando mass shooting, a journalist asked Gov. Scott, “Is there anything you can do on a policy level to stop something like this in the future?” His answer: “There… Look, we’re dealing with a tragedy right now. Our prayers go out to everybody impacted. Law enforcement is doing their job… There will be plenty of time to think about, how do we make… Or, you know, continue to improve our society.” Well, that time is RIGHT FREAKING NOW, Rick Scott. We don’t need prayers–We need action! We need leaders who believe that there are things we can DO to make these murders less frequent. The strategy of the NRA-owned republicans is transparent: 1) Accuse people of “politicizing a tragedy” if they speak of need for reform “too soon.” 2) Wait… Wait for people’s outrage to subside… Wait for people to get distracted by the next story… Wait for people to lose hope that our government could ever do something to help, after your dirty money has filled Congress with people who are committed to obstructing anything that could be called “progress.” Wait as long as it takes for people to either forget or give up. And then 3) Continue with business as usual. No more! Something CAN be done. Your ideology of hopelessness is not only ineffective… It is actually costing people their lives.
I’ll leave you with a quote from THIS AMAZING ARTICLE written by the Dalai Lama titled “Why I’m hopeful about the world’s future.” He wrote it after the Orlando massacre, and if the events of the past week (or month, or year, or decade) have left you feeling hopeless, I highly suggest you read it. In the article, he writes: “It is not enough simply to pray. There are solutions to many of the problems we face; new mechanisms for dialogue need to be created, along with systems of education to inculcate moral values. These must be grounded in the perspective that we all belong to one human family and that together we can take action to address global challenges.” He goes on to say, “It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the 21st century does not repeat the pain and bloodshed of the past. Because human nature is basically compassionate, I believe it is possible that decades from now we will see an era of peace — but we must work together as global citizens of a shared planet.“
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