on guns and gutlessness

Because of someone's negligence, my child fell at school and broke his hip. It caused him excruciating pain. He had to have surgery. His supple thigh was cut open. His muscles splayed. The pieces of his broken femur were set in place, drilled and fixed with screws. He was stitched up and bandaged. My son spent five weeks mostly in bed recovering. His fall could and should have been prevented. Even so, I'm grateful that my child is healing and smiling and walking again. More to the point, my child is alive and kicking unlike the victims of countless mass shootings. I grieve for them.

What the hell is wrong with this nation? This place of so-called rugged individualists ("so-called" because exactly no one achieves anything by themselves) who think their right to own and brandish (or conceal) guns—even high-capacity assault weapons—eclipses the rights of others to keep themselves and their children safe from harm in public spaces and in homes. What the hell is wrong with these so-called leaders ("so-called" because they don't lead if it risks crossing the NRA)? Instead, in the shadow of these tragedies they deflect and deny any notion that guns are a main source of the problem. What is it about the Second Amendment's words, "A well-regulated militia" that these cowardly, power-hungry fetishists don't understand? Originalists be damned for your hypocrisy. Where did some Americans' selfishly reckless "me, me, me" and "eff your feelings" attitudes come from? Ignorance? Hate? Narcissism? Entitlement? Fear of becoming obsolete? All of the above? There have been so many lives lost to Covid and guns, but it didn't—doesn't—have to be this way. The spurning of common sense gun safety legislation is outrageous. Unforgivable, really. Lives could have been and can be saved.

When I consider the grieving parents of the murdered children, I think of Walt Whitman's, Vigil Strange I Kept On the Field One Night, in which he writes about a father's vigil for his fallen soldier son who, as he describes, was "a boy of responding kisses, (never again on earth responding.)" I read that one little girl at Robb Elementary School was brave and resourceful enough to smear herself with her dead friend's blood so she'd appear dead to the shooter. Compare her courageous actions to conservative legislators who, despite these grisly scenes which have become so frequent, are paralyzed by their gutlessness and greed.

I mourn for the families and friends of children and adults gunned down in schools, theaters, concert venues, grocers, places of worship. It's painfully clear that thoughts and prayers do nothing to stop the carnage. Neither, it seems, do the 393 million guns Americans hoard with the false notion they are somehow safer owning one (or more) despite the studies showing that owning guns increases risk of harm or death. And, there is no merciful god to step in and stop the bloodshed. There's only nature, including human nature, which fails so miserably when fear, hate, greed and lust for power displace peace, love, understanding and brotherhood. It's sickening to watch legislators sit idly by and, in their flabby inaction, seem content to continue watching massacres happen. "Guns don't kill people," they exclaim. I'd like to hear them explain why guns are prohibited at the annual meeting of the NRA—evidence of their hypocrisy and deceit; they know it'd be dangerous. They have the blood of innocent children on their hands, a stain they can never wash away.

And so, at times like these, when mothers and fathers are grieving the senseless murder of their children, I think of my boy who is often out of sorts. My boy who regularly feels miserable. My boy who, like today, still seizes and in the wake of the attacks struggles to breathe. I've seen him look, too often, glassy-eyed and ashen as if the life had been snuffed out of him. But today he is here beside me, and for that I am most grateful; he is still a boy of responding kisses.

For the sake of our children, I hope folks do away with their guns and gutlessness, their unfounded, erroneous, harmful notions.

In the wake of this morning's seizure

1 comment:

  1. This is the best piece of writing on the gun issue that I've ever read. Thank you for taking the time to compose such a hugely compelling essay. I hope that millions of people see it.