For the most part, I plan to keep this blog focused on travels, fun things to do and see and watch and eat.
However, in the wake of what’s going on in my country right this moment, I need to use this platform to air my thoughts.
A man opened fire on a crowd of concert-goers a few nights ago. This post isn’t about him. This post is about all the times we, as American citizens, say, “Thoughts and prayers” and then go right back into the same system. I wish I could say this was an isolated incident. It’s not. I’m 33. The first mass shooting I remember was Columbine. I was in middle school at the time. Since then, I’ve seen coverage of countless mass shootings. Countless deaths. Countless thoughts and prayers.
Thoughts and prayers.
And then we do nothing. We don’t take a look at our laws and figure out a better way. We don’t look at our health care system and find a way to get people better access not only to mental health care, but health care in general. We don’t look at toxic masculinity and address the role that guns play in our society. We don’t look at how racism plays into the idea that a person of color or a specific religion is either a terrorist or a thug or a criminal or an “illegal,” while a white man is a “lone wolf.”
We don’t even look into the fact that calling someone a “lone wolf” romanticizes the image of a mass murderer. Wolves are strong and powerful. A man, hiding in a hotel room, so many floors up and shooting into an unsuspecting crowd of innocent people that can’t even see where the bullets are coming from, is not strong and powerful. He’s weak. He’s a coward. And he is not alone. There have been many before him. And there will be many after him.
I live in a country where men carrying Nazi flags are referred to as “good people on all sides” while a black athlete protesting racial injustice is a “son of a bitch.”
I live in a country where one person’s right to own guns trumps a child’s right to go to kindergarten without being murdered. Where the right to own a gun is more important than the right to cancer treatment, a living wage, an education. I live in a country where it’s easier for a man with bad intentions to buy a gun than it is for a rape victim to get an abortion. I live in a country where a woman fleeing domestic violence is blamed for her death because “why didn’t she just leave?” While her husband was able to legally buy the gun he used to kill her.
I live in a country where it is illegal to sell Kinder Eggs, because we are not smart enough to see the plastic toy inside and not choke to death on it. But we are apparently smart enough to be trusted with a weapon designed to murder 58 people and injure 500+ more in a matter minutes. Because, self-defense and overthrowing a tyrannical government! Makes sense, right?
I live in a country that is collapsing from the inside. You ever notice that there are a lot more terrorist attacks from ISIS in Europe than there are in the U.S.? Want to know why? Because Americans, as a collective, do more damage to our fellow citizens than ISIS could ever dream to. They don’t need to destroy our people. We do a much better job of it on our own.
Many will say that now is not the time to bring politics into it. Or to argue. Or to state the obvious. It’s a time to mourn. A time to pretend to reflect on the tragedy of innocent lives lost. You can pray and mourn all you want. But it means absolutely nothing if we don’t have the hard conversations. The first step to getting help is admitting there is a problem.
Well, here I am. An average, American citizen admitting that my country has a problem. Several, actually. Now, what are we going to do to help fix the problem?
Thoughts and prayers.
Just like always. Nothing more. Nothing less.