Thursday, January 3, 2013

Stop the madness


I have a beautiful and bright son who plays with LEGOs and believes in Santa Claus.
He is 7 years old.

And explaining to him what happened in Newtown, Conn., was shockingly easier than I thought it would be. I kept it short, simple and to the point. I provided no gory details.

Then I sat and waited for his response.

He had no questions.

He felt no fear about safety in his own school.

He didn’t ask about “bad guys” who might try to hurt him.

He simply nodded his little blonde head and quietly said, “OK, Mom.”

I walked out of his bedroom and breathed a huge sigh of relief. Why?

Because I understood that beautiful little boy had no understanding about what took place inside Sandy Hook Elementary on December 14.

His SpongeBob-loving mind can’t wrap around that kind of hatred, of abject terror, of desolation.

In a selfish way, I am happy for that. Let him be a child a little longer.

If only the 20 angels stolen at Sandy Hook had the same opportunity.

I grieve for what society has turned us into: a nation of chest-beaters and hand-wringers who sit idly by while each tragedy sinks us deeper into a cesspool of immense loathing and despair.

These events make us cry. They make us angry. Newspapers write editorials. Social media is crammed with photos and stories of victims. Networks host fundraisers, and reality show singers perform beautiful tributes. Politicians argue gun control and mental health issues.

And then...after a few days, weeks, months...the events that so traumatized us begin to sting a little less, media get distracted by something else shiny and ratings-grabbing and move on until finally the only time it enters our minds is on an anniversary or when - not if - but when another tragedy hits and we start to compare body counts.

Frankly, it makes me sick.

I hate guns. The very thought of holding one makes me want to throw up.

But I understand where Second Amendment proponents are coming from. While I’m of the camp that the Founding Fathers probably referred to an armed military presence to protect we puny little civilians, I understand how the wording can be construed to support personal gun ownership.

Fine. Whatever floats your boat.

However, I do not understand why that extends to assault rifles and large ammo clips. Armor-piercing bullets? Really? That’s necessary? For what, exactly? Target practice? Protection?

They aren’t stopping tragedies like Sandy Hook. I don’t recall one incident in recent memory where Average Joe Citizen prevented a mass shooting by pulling out an assault rifle and taking out the bad guy.

I wish I had the answer. I wish I knew how to grab our society by the scruff of the neck and shake some sense back into it.

Gun laws aren’t cutting it. No matter what changes are or are not made, people who shouldn’t have a gun will get one. I’d just like to make it a little more difficult for them to do so.

We need money. Money to make our schools safer. Money to fix holes in the gun licensing system. Money to spot and treat mental health issues and increase support services for individuals and families suffering from that nightmare.

So where do we find that money?

I’ll tell you where.

Stop building NFL stadiums for rich guys who can build their own.

While we’re at it, stop giving tax breaks to MLB, the NBA, the NHL and any other sports acronym that blackmails a city, threatening to pack up their toys and leave town if it doesn’t get whatever the hell it wants.

How much revenue did the state of Missouri lose because of tax credits given to the Kansas City Chiefs in recent years?

...and look how well that turned out.

Let’s collect and use taxes for their real intention: education, infrastructure, health services - both physical AND mental.

And stop spending $6 BILLION on presidential election campaigns.

I know I didn’t spend $6 billion and, you, my readers, didn’t spend $6 billion.

But somebody did.

Our government has gotten so polluted with lobbyists and millionaires and power-grabbing narcissists that the average voter no longer has any power.

I’d like to lead the charge to say, “Let’s take back America!” But, my friends, that train has left the station.

I’ve never felt so powerless in my life.

Too few people make the rules around here now.  Until those people tell the donors and lobbyists writing their large campaign checks to stuff them where the sun doesn’t shine, nothing will change.

Until those people stop giving tax breaks to billionaires and building palaces for them to play their games, nothing will change.

Until those people start supporting education, putting dollars back into our schools instead of raping budgets, nothing. will. change.

Remember when members of Congress broke into an impromptu bipartisan rendition of “God Bless America” on the steps of the U.S. Capitol after 9/11?

Yeah.

I don’t think they remember either.

Leaders at every level need to take a long, hard look at the job they are doing. Voters need to take a long, hard look at the job those leaders are doing.

And start making some changes.

I don’t want or expect people to agree with me about guns, the NFL or Sandy Hook, but let’s get the conversation started.

Because my son is only 7 years old.

And I silently scream at the thought of future Sandy Hook-conversations I’ll have with him if we don’t do something to stop this madness right now.

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