After the unspeakable massacre of twenty children in Connecticut, some people seem to think that just speaking about it will solve the situation that led to such devastation.
Barack Obama has called for a national conversation on guns. As has nearly every public leader and media publication in the Country. More conversation by political players and their PR people is about the last thing we can count on to solve America’s gun problem. And, while the voices of many others speaking up might well help, just talking about the problem is not nearly enough.
More real action by real people—and many–is our only hope now.
Which should be painfully clear to everyone in America by now. We’ve seen this before. This call for ‘a conversation on guns’ has been made time and again. President Obama made it during his 2008 campaign, and again in the 2012 debates. Senators made it in 2011 after Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, a grandmother and a little girl were gunned down in Tuscon. African American leaders made it earlier this year, after Trayvon Martin was murdered. Media and movie stars made it after theater-goers were slaughtered in Colorado last October.
Gun groups, for their part, haven’t been shy to talk either. Even if it sometimes takes them longer to figure out how they’ll frame their positions, as was the case recently when the NRA waited until a week after a mentally ill man took an assault weapon and blasted away at the Connecticut children’s elementary school.
I’ve tried talking, too. Including when I wrote about how our rage-rhetoric culture leads to things like a gun-happy father proudly posing his children next to the bullet riddled cut-out of one of our Country’s leaders. But at this point, all this perseverating and pontificating serve only cold comfort, if that.
We’re a nation mourning the lives of 20 precious children (and six of their educators). Each of their lives obliterated, each tiny body riddled with gunshots. Each having bled out bright red right on their classroom floor.
We must not forget. We must hold these images as our constant reminder, our mantle and fuel for efforts to engage many more than the usual suspects in talk of solutions. In fact, we can best honor these children by talking far less, and doing far more.
Most important—‘we’ must be us ‘people’—all who care about children as much or maybe more than we care for our Country. And we must resist leaving this work to the pundits. We know what they are good at—and, it ain’t action. It’s talk. Which has gotten us exactly nowhere on guns violence. Nowhere. Though it has fattened the pocketbooks of gun-manufacturer magnates, and their mouthpieces.
We must move well beyond their defensive diatribes and droning debates stalled throughout decades of hand-wringing over gun incidents, small and large. Where self-interested pandering has been the primary outcome of most. Though, in fairness, their content has sometimes included reasonable arguments put forth from both sides. Which is something, at least. So we needn’t over-focus on answers, either. We have them already.
What has been missing is democratic action. Which requires far more than conversations led by professional speakers, lobbyists and leaders. Most deeply embedded with political and economic networks that operate best without decisive action. And, who, given the choice, would often prefer inaction. Straightforward outcomes are inexpedient for people whose livings are earned by how many guns are sold, or how much political power they can sustain. And stalemate is better than a lost argument when their influence and incomes are at stake.
It’s time we commandeer this much co-opted conversation and move it to back to us, we the people. Like, now. We shouldn’t wait for permission or invitations from powers-that-be. Even if they were interested in hearing from us, we must give up hope that any can do enough without us, no matter how powerful, persuasive or provocative they are. We can’t forget that all their talk did nothing to protect our Connecticut children. And, in fact, might have placed them square in the sights of one shooter’s mind, and from there, of his military-grade weapon.
So how can us ‘real people’ make change happen? The way ‘real people’ in our Country, so often have. We must join together en-masse in a full-scale revolution against gun violence—though our movement, of course, must be non-violent.
We can’t deplete energies in battles with each other, but we can and should catalyze our collective passions with images of our children seared on our hearts. These innocents, who, whether we are hunters or housewives or seniors or students, we really do care about. And, we don’t have to look far. For, even while so many earnest discussions begin, many more promising efforts—many which feature substantive and concrete solutions, are emerging.
Perhaps you’ll chose to join the 400,000 who, inspired by celebrities have signed onto “Demand a Plan,” to stop gun violence, or the millions of people engaging in 26 Acts of Kindness to create a gentler, less violent nation.
If you’d rather do something to stop cycles of poverty and violence, consider donating to established groups like the Jeremiah Program which supports single mothers with safe housing, daycare and life-skills while they attend college, or Micro-Grants which invests in small businesses to support fledgling entrepreneurs’ efforts to work their way out impoverished lifestyles.
Or maybe you’ll create your own solution, by organizing volunteers to monitor visitors to your local school, or working with local police to start a neighborhood watch, or enlisting and supporting them to create a gun buy-back program.
The key is to choose those that feature less conversation and more concrete outcomes. Better yet, seek signs that the effort will actively interconnect with others to insure compelling momentum can be sustained for the long run. We should not stop until real change has occurred. And, we should carefully avoid any efforts that are at risk for being co-opted by the usual suspects, or if you will, obstructers.
Speaking of which—I’d like to make a call of my own to my fellow woman and mothers.
We’ve got to get cracking on this critical action. Because, not only has most gun violence been perpetrated by men, they’ve stalled out on gun solutions, as well.
It’s time we women stop waiting for these men to fight for our children’s lives. Clearly, they’ve failed us all. Just as they have so many other causes we care about. Only when women have engaged our powerful passions have we obtained the right to vote, achieved legislative equality and took control of our bodies.
Now it’s time we exercise our rights to lead our Country in protecting our children. Before any more of them are killed.