Are we terrified enough yet?
Last week my family and I headed north, to a cottage on a lake just over the Michigan border. We planned to disconnect, get back to nature and focus on each other for a low key vacation. We did that and it was a nice trip.
But even in the middle of nowhere, I couldn’t escape the tragic news that filled my facebook feed day after day.
On Monday, I read of our humble little town’s Fourth of July parade and the float of men holding machine guns, passing out 10% coupons alongside candy for children. People were terrified.
On Tuesday, I read of young people witnessing and filming the murder of a black man asking What did I do? What did I do?
On Wednesday, a women livestreams the aftermath of her boyfriend being shot by police during a traffic stop.
Days later five police men are shot during what was otherwise a peaceful protest.
Last month I sobbed while watching the news after 49 gay men and women were gunned down in a nightclub.
Enough hate crimes, enough mass shootings, enough systematic racism, enough gun violence and enough with the “thoughts and prayers” and social media hashtags. They’re a good place to start, but if we want safety, peace and equality in this country, we, meaning you and me, the stay at home mom, the young career woman, the empty nester, the college student, WE NEED TO TAKE ACTION.
I’ve spent the last month feeling sad and angry, unsure of what I can do and if it will make any difference. If we all sit on the sidelines, we can be sure things are not going to change for the better. So where do I start?
Get organized. Research before you vote. VOTE. Treat people who might look or love differently than you with compassion and kindness. Educate yourself. Do not underestimate how their lives are significantly more difficult than yours just because of the color of their skin or the people they love. If you have the means, use your dollars to support victims’ families, campaigns against gun violence and organizations striving for equality, like the NAACP and The Human Rights campaigns.
One group I’ve learned a lot from is Moms Demand Action. It’s opened my eyes to my own state’s laws regarding gun control, who I can contact, how to write letters to our government representatives, asking local businesses if they’ll ban guns on their property, etc. It’s made me feel like I can be a part of a solution. Your local chapter should have similar resources for you.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Months ago I did a recap of the policy stances of different presidential candidates, but next up I’ll be looking into my local elections. Indiana is doing a BAD job on guns (my big problem are war-time weapons like semi-automatic guns) and I don’t want to see them during the local parade or at city parks (both legal!) I don’t want them near places children play or where people drink alcohol. But that’s something our state laws allow, so I need to know who supports those laws and who is working to amend them to ensure my safety.
In November, I’ll vote for candidates with gun sense, who champion gay rights and who acknowledge the huge race and class separations in our country and are working towards changing them. Voting is a hiring process and you’re the boss. Let’s elect people who aren’t bought by the NRA and who listen to the voters. Even if you’re not excited about our presumptive presidential candidates, do not sit on the sidelines, especially for your state and local elections!! I’ll never stop reminding you that 100 years ago, women didn’t have that privilege. You do. Don’t waste it.
Guys, I don’t have this figured out, but I’m heartbroken and terrified and angry and I cannot stand for any minority - black people or any people of color, gay people or any religion to be targeted or treated less than the human beings they are. I can’t turn on the news to another mass shooting, or hate crimes or of black people being shot by police. I can’t deal with little kids accidentally shooting their siblings. I just can’t let this happen and go on with my life as if it hadn’t. I think it’s fitting to share one of my favorite quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., especially when we’re feeling so small and helpless.
Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
So I’ll talk about inequality and gun sense and I’ll act on it. I hope you will too. I’ve had enough.