When a Nation Fails to Protect Its Children

In the first six weeks of this year (first 31 school days to be exact), gun violence visited our children’s schools 17 times. Red marks the spot (add a big red dot in Florida):

The latest rampage claimed 17 lives and more than a dozen wounded. It’s hardly news anymore. We don’t know when or where school children will be gunned down next, but we know it will happen. And happen again. Time and time again. And yet we do nothing. We accept it as a fact of life. But, of course, it isn’t a fact of life. It’s only a fact of life in the U.S.A

Americans are an odd bunch. This is the face of America today:

Many of us them (this is one time I don’t want to be lumped in with all of my fellow citizens) apparently love the NRA more than our children. They want the “right” to arm themselves with assault weapons, just in case … . Meanwhile, the right to live is routinely taken from innocents, by gunpoint.

I wonder what some of these people think they’re protecting. A nation that cares so little for its children that it fails to protect them? A nation that caters to the whims of a lunatic fringe full of conspiracy theorists? Is such a nation worth preserving?

“Our thoughts and prayers are with you,” they say. I suspect many of the parents who are making arrangements for their daughter or son’s funeral might say you can keep your thoughts and prayers to yourself. I know I would.

I will never vote for a candidate who takes a red cent from the NRA. Until more people do the same, nothing will change. Children’s lives will continue to be snuffed out.

Will America act, or will it continue merely to roll out its “thoughts and prayers” to make itself feel better when its children are slaughtered?

Or perhaps we’ll just blame the kids.

I guess we’ll see.

P.S. For perspective (homicides by firearm per million people) –

P.S. # 2 If there is any doubt about the power of the NRA, consider the fact background checks are not required on all gun buyers and then consider the information below. Obviously, our representatives have someone else’s interests in mind other than the people’s.

P.S. # 3 Sobering data:

Violence

A U.S. Congressman was shot yesterday. It should go without saying that it’s a tragedy. It always is, when a human being is shot, that is.

Shooting another person is such a barbaric act. Yet it happens every day. It’s confirmation we are not nearly as civilized as we think we are.

There are all kinds of justification for shootings and killings, of course. Personally, I don’t find any of them to be persuasive.

When I was in college, I toured the prison in central Pennsylvania where state-sponsored executions were carried out. Actually, the execution room had been inactive for a while until the Supreme Court could finally resolve the issue, but the room stood ready for action. The electric chair was in the middle of the room. A large exhaust fan was positioned in the ceiling above the chair, ready to suck the fumes from the room as the flesh and organs fried. I wondered how anyone could participate in the intentional, well-planned killing of another human being. I still wonder.

I also wonder why so many people are willing to fight rich people’s wars. That’s what wars usually entail: fighting over resources or other strategic advantages that bear on the ability of rich and powerful people to maintain or build their wealth. It’s said that money is the root of all evil. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve come to realize it’s true.

Some people think we need to be armed in order to protect our liberty. Hence, you can walk into a Starbucks in Cheyenne, Wyoming and encounter a customer with an assault rifle slung over his shoulder. Some people simply don’t understand what nurtures and protects liberty. They put too much faith in instruments of death. In the power of violence.

I don’t own a gun, Vera. And I suspect I never will. I did borrow one years ago when we lived in Pittsburgh. I was involved in the defense of a client in the trash hauling business, and there had been some assaults and one murder on the fringes of the case. Borrowing the gun was probably an over-reaction, yet when you have a wife and small kids, over-reactions aren’t uncommon. You become very protective.

I returned the gun and haven’t had one in the house anytime since. That said, I’d probably resort to violence in self-defense or in defense of a loved one. But the odds of the need for such action are very, very low.

I’m lucky. For people in my socio-economic status, violence is usually something that lives in the distance. But not all people are so fortunate. It’s just one of the many daily reminders of the role luck and parentage play in one’s life. You’re a very lucky girl, too.

I don’t mean to suggest violence only comes to us in the form of guns. In fact, violence takes many forms. Sometimes it’s delivered by a fist. Or needle. Or mental or emotional assault. Or some act of self-destruction.

Usually (but not always), violence is accompanied by fear, anger, greed, hate or desperation. If we thought and talked more about those things, perhaps there would be less violence.

I wonder if humans will ever develop to the stage of finding violence to be barbaric and unacceptable. That would be nice, but it’s probably just a pipe dream.

In the meantime, the struggle between violence and peace will continue. It’s a struggle that takes place not only in society. It also plays out within every human being’s heart.

Peace be with you, my dear Vera. May love, courage and hope hold violence at bay in your life.