A humor series on navigating this difficult time
I’m sharing another installment of a humor series from my friend Pam Goldman, centering on a woman named Ramona, who tries to help… in her own way. If you’re new to this series: Here’s the previous installment.
I want to welcome back sunshine and warmth. I’ve missed you! You lift my spirits, infuse me with new-found energy, even make me smile, if not on the outside, definitely on the inside. Could this be happiness?
I am on my deck, working on the laptop, listening to the birds. I am without a mask because I don’t see anyone but my husband, K. (and the mailman who doesn’t get out of his little open-door truck that looks like a toy).
The trees, beginning to bud, extend their branches, ready for their transient winged guests. Airbnb for the birds? They flit from limb to limb darting from the crabapple outside the kitchen window to our sky-high ‘Rockefeller Christmas tree’ on the front lawn. Sturdy green crocus shoots push through the soil like rockets ready to launch. Every living thing seems to be waking from winter’s slumber, excited to finally feel the sun’s toasty embrace. There’s nothing like the breeze from a new leaf turning over.
OMG!! Can that be right?! A sucker punch to my gut! I hear Alexa through the screen door… “Breaking news from CNN! Ten people shot at a supermarket in Boulder!”
Can that be right?
Not even a week since the mass shooting in Atlanta?!
I feel sick.
There are monsters among us. And their numbers seem to be growing.
What is it about America?!
I never before thought there might be such a thing as ‘too much democracy’ but I’m beginning to wonder about the right to bear firearms, assault weapons, high capacity ammunition magazines? Is target practice the reason for the Second Amendment? Hunting? Are that many of us aiming, literally, to become sharpshooters?
Where does this need to possess guns come from? It has to be fear. Fear of our neighbors who also have guns. Fear of police with guns. Fear of hunters with guns.
Hunters have a right to hunt but now we’re hunting each other!
These waves of mass shootings unfold on the heels of each other, so close together I have to take a moment to remember the last one — the spas of Atlanta, killing six Asian woman and two others. How long has it been since Parkland? Sandy Hook? Columbine? The tragedies flash by like chapter headings in a book you don’t want to read.
A few years ago at a fundraiser for gun safety reform I was able to pay my respects to the parents of 7-year-old Daniel Barden, the sweet, smiling first-grader with tousled hair and a missing front tooth who lost his life in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Mark Barden, co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise, stood stoically by his wife Jacqueline in a reception area as I tentatively approached. “I’m so sorry for your loss,” I said, clasping Mark’s warm hand in both of mine. I wanted to hug him but I held back to honor what felt like sacred space containing their grief.
Are these horrific events proof the American experiment is failing? Or that the ‘American dream’ has turned into a nightmare? Why, why, why have mass shootings become part of the American story?! Guns under pillows. Rifles locked in closets on high shelves. Pistols in pocketbooks? Just in case? To combat hate crimes born of fear and ignorance? Murder born of mental illness? Do we prosecute the gun sellers? The manufacturers? The parents? The schools?
If strong gun control legislation failed to pass after Sandy Hook, why do we expect it will pass now?
Recently two pieces of legislation passed the House and await a vote in the Senate. The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 (H.R. 8) expands background checks on those purchasing or transferring firearms and would apply to online sales as well. This Act passed the House 227 to 203, 8 Republicans voted for it and 1 Democrat voted against it.
H.R. 8 would close the “Charleston loophole” which allows gun sales without a complete background check if three business days have passed since the gun was purchased. Nine Black worshippers in a bible study group were killed in 2015 at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston by a white supremacist who used the loophole to acquire a gun.
We can only hope and pray the Senate will do the right thing. I fear the sinking feeling in my stomach portends something less than victory.
I don’t think it would hurt to have more folks attend their local church, synagogue or mosque to listen and really hear the sermons their faith leaders give on non-violence, tolerance, empathy and love. These are the words that matter. These are the words that can, if incorporated into our daily lives, save our lives.
If you see a red flag that signals mental illness, emotional distress, psychological dysfunction, violent tendencies, anti-social behaviors…..say or do something to help direct that person to a parent, a teacher, a health professional, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or emergency room doctor. You may be diverting a senseless tragedy.
Who knows where or when the next gunshots will ring out and shatter a community? Will it be in a library? On a soccer field? At a community swimming pool? During a concert?
Please do what you can to ensure gun safety. Give time, energy or funds to help make sure we don’t let endless grief haunt more families. Below is a list of organizations actively working to stop the violence in America.
Sandy Hook Promise: sandyhookpromise.org
Everytown for Gun Safety: everytown.org
Moms Demand Action: momsdemandaction.org