Friday, April 19, 2013

The Least We Can Do

On December 14, 2012 the company I work for hosted the few thousand of us that work in the corporate headquarters for a massive and extravagant Christmas party. Unlimited beer, wine, and other drinks. Never-ending trays of yummy foods all over our massive cafeteria. A DJ that spun one hit after another, under elaborate winter decorations and a light show.

On December 14, 2012 a man attacked a kindergarten in Sandy Hook, CT in the United States, my homeland, and massacred twenty children and six adult staff members. I wrote about my initial reaction here.

I learned about the massacre over my smartphone while at that extravagant Christmas party. I dealt with my shock and my overwhelming empathy the only way I knew how at that moment: I put down the wine and started dancing. I danced so hard and for so long that I bruised all of toenails. I still carry those bruises with me on both of my big toes.

As the days turned into weeks and then into months, I couldn't sleep, and then I could. I couldn't stop crying when I picked up PJ from his day care, and then I could. I couldn't stop watching the news, and then I could. I couldn't stop imagining what those poor parents are going through and, you know what, I still can't. I couldn't believe that my culture could accept the ongoing massacre of citizens - even the shocking massacre of 20 children inside their locked school - as the "price of freedom", and I still can't. I couldn't stop feeling helpless, and then I could.

First I got more informed. I learned about the statistics available about violence in the US. I learned that there are a lot of stats available regarding car accidents as well as violent deaths of just about everything but not gun-related violent deaths. The stats aren't there because the American government voted to make that type of research illegal. So Slate started to collect the data. Turns out that over 3,500 people have died a gun-related death since the Sandy Hook massacre.

I learned about how people can buy guns, sell guns, collect guns in the United States. I learned about how mental health services are available or not in various parts of the country. I learned about how bullying is addressed or not in various parts of the country. I learned about how sex is blocked on almost all TV channels but not scenes of violence. I followed survey data. I watched and read various organizations and people speak about the problem of violence in the US and their suggestions for solving the problem.

Then I got involved. I wrote Facebook posts, tweets. I emailed and left voice mail messages for my representatives, senators, and state government officials. I joined an organization called Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America. I believed that together we would find reasonable solutions that respect our culture, our freedoms, our legal foundations, and our future. It looked like my belief was founded.

Then the Senate voted for the first time on a bill to standardised the background checks required for buying a gun. It was an easy vote for all of the Senate members because across all states, the vast majority of voters support the need to standardised the background checks.

Yet, the bill failed. The bill that the vast majority of voters - these Senators bosses - support failed. It failed because these Senators voted not to represent their voters but their paychecks from a very powerful and very wealthy lobby organization called the National Rifle Association. It was a set back towards a reasonable solution.

But I still believe. I believe that together we will find reasonable solutions that respect our culture, our freedoms, our legal foundations, and our future. Solutions that also respect those 20 children that will never turn 8 years old; that will never be held by their parents again; that will never laugh or learn or cry or grow again.

We can find and create those solutions together. But we have to continue the conversations, the discussions, the debates. We have to continue speaking out, acting out. We have to remain on the right side of history.

This is one chapter. One chapter in a long book that we are writing together. I hope you will join me in writing each chapter of this book. Because this little man - like all of our children all over the world and their parents - deserve at least that from us.


At least.


1 comment:

Erin said...

Great piece, Nic!!

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