Thursday, June 18, 2015

After Another Shooting

Dear America,

I am so tired and angry today, as I know a lot of you are. Why, why, does this keep happening? I am not going to get used to mass shootings, or any shootings, occurring every day. The President is right—no other advanced nation in the world has this problem.

Twitter is crowded with opinions. Racism. No, mental illness. No, terrorism. No, gun control laws.

I call bullshit. It’s all of the above, but it’s all part of a much bigger problem. Apathy.

We live in a crazy-producing society, unique to the U.S. We seem to accept that corporations with billions of dollars get to do whatever they want; that the government won’t, can’t, and shouldn’t protect its citizens; that no matter what we do, we have no power.

We are content to go buy our cheap merchandise at Walmart without thinking about the fact that this company and the family who owns it are raking in our money while refusing to give their employees even the tiniest benefits. That they and other corporate greed mongers refuse to pay employees a fair living wage. We continue to balk at paying taxes in order that folks with legitimate mental illness can get the care and treatment they need. We allow the government to dictate what will be taught in schools based on test scores, rather than paying teachers what they’re worth and trusting them to do their jobs.

All the while, we talk, and talk, and talk about how awful this latest mass shooting is and wring our hands and pray.

I’m sick of it. We are the problem. All of us. I admit, I enjoy a life of white privilege. But I hope I don’t allow that to lessen my humanity and my desire to continue fighting until all people have the same privilege.

When will we as a society put aside our short-sighted, narrow-minded, self-serving attitudes, get off our asses, and get to WORK? I mean the kind of work that can counteract hatred and violence. The kind of work that involves risk, pain, sacrifice. The kind of work that is uncomfortable.

It could be any kind of work. There’s so much of it to be done. It could involve actually going to vote on election day, even educating yourself about the candidates and what they stand for. Don’t have time for that? Do you have time to hang out on Twitter and debate whether this latest shooting is about hatred or gun control? It could be actually helping out on a campaign for a candidate who wants to fight for a higher minimum wage or the rights of LGBT folks to be included in our human rights laws.

It doesn’t have to be politics. It could be building homes for Habitat for Humanity. Or feeding homeless people a meal. It could be volunteering on a suicide hotline. It could be prison ministry. Or environmental activism. It could be neighborhood community building. The list is never ending.
If, instead, we are content to sit on our butts watching reality TV, complaining about big government, and holding onto our fear, then we will continue seeing more of the same.

I’m sick of it. It would be so easy to flee to the mountains and ignore the pain. It’s my first inclination. But we need more of us to stay here and do the work. Get out of our little houses made of ticky tacky and really start caring for each other. Stop debating what needs to be done. It ALL needs to be done. Just go do it. Every shot fired, every day, should propel us to work harder, care more, fight longer. This is OUR country. WE are the ones who are responsible.