When horrific events occur like what happened this past Sunday in Orlando, I’ve found it really difficult in the aftermath to get back in step with the normal groove of life. I’ve been feeling rather raw, emotionally raw, with my old friend anxiety lurking in the corners of my head and lodged in my solar plexus. Deep thoughts coupled with deep emotions seem to create an emotional abyss within me. So many beautiful lives lost. So many families grieving. How do you pick yourself back up after another tragedy like this, without becoming numb to the weight of it?
As a people, it seems we’re becoming used to hearing tragic news like this. Maybe it’s just me but we seem quicker to move on from it than we used to – and that response frightens me. I don’t want to become passive and numb to gun violence, nor do I want my children, or anyone’s children, growing up in a society where we don’t value, love, listen and respect each other, regardless of our differences. After some reflection, conversations with friends and many deep breaths this past week, I’ve realized that my thoughts and prayers are simply not enough this time around, and although the task at hand seems insurmountable, in order to create meaningful change, I need to do something.
This may be a bit of a stretch, but hear me out. A few years ago. I wanted to sign my boys up for Fall soccer at their school. The problem was, the school didn’t offer any type of sports program. I’m a big believer in children playing sports for many reasons, not the least of which is they learn lessons in self-esteem, grit, sportsmanship, team building – all soft skills that are harder to learn in a classroom setting. Selfishly, I didn’t want my boys lying around on the weekends playing on their devices and whining about how they had nothing to do. So I impulsively raised my hand and said I would start a school sports program, having no clue how to accomplish such a task. (Luckily, a wonderful parent stepped up to volunteer with me, so I wasn’t completely on my own). The program succeeded and looking back, I surprised myself at what I was capable of accomplishing.
Now, I realize creating a sports program and reforming gun laws are two extremes, but it starts with getting out of our comfort zone and taking small steps. I’m sad. I’m angry. I’m anxious. I’m heart broken. I’m emotionally exhausted. I’m pissed off. And I hope you are too, enough to do something about it. I encourage you to make the calls, sign the petitions, join the marches and show up at the vigils. In order to create effective change, we need to take measurable action. Here are some links how:
Watch: PBS video clip (3:49) “I just came from a meeting today in the Situation Room in which I got people who we know have been on ISIL Web sites, living here in the United States, U.S. citizens, and we’re allowed to put them on the no-fly list when it comes to airlines, but because of the National Rifle Association, I cannot prohibit those people from buying a gun.” – President Obama.
Has Your U.S. Congress person received donations from the NRA? (Sen. Roy Blunt from Missouri has – $60,550).
Find out who your Senator is. Call, email and/or text DISARM HATE* to 64433 to be directly connected to your Congresspersons. Ask them to vote YES on two gun safety measures: one to prohibit people on the terrorist watch list from legally buying guns, and the other to expand background checks to cover private gun sales. Here’s my text below:
*I texted DISARM HATE to 64433 and was directed to Senator Roy Blunts office. I’ll be honest, in my awkward introvertness, I was a bit nervous as the phone was ringing. Will I be speaking to Roy Blunt (highly doubtful)? Leave a rambling voice mail (probably)? Not have the correct ‘facts’ to be taken seriously? But then I remembered, THEY work for US(!) A woman with a kind voice answered the phone and said she was leaving messages for the Senator. I told her to tell Senator Blunt to close loopholes that allow people on suspected terrorist watch lists to get guns, and the need to require background checks. I hung up the phone. It was very easy and took me all of 3 minutes.
Small steps. But if we ALL do this, progress.
We must save love.