United For CHANGE.
It is said that silence implies consent. Therefore, I refuse to consent.
I am a politically passionate person. Politics matter to me. I've found that the social media platform can be both a useful tool, and a breeding ground for name calling and pettiness ... This is especially true for politically charged subject matters. A few entries ago I spoke of my disdain for the uneasy feeling that aggressive debating lead me to feel. Maybe I'm not cut out for debates - maybe I'm too soft. Maybe I recognize that there are minds I cannot change. Maybe I'm not trying to change a mind, so much as help lead somebody to change their own. Maybe I'm just another opinion.
Some things are more important than me, or my comfort zone. Orlando is more important than me.
I've seen people say that it's too soon to discuss policy change. I for one, think it is again too late to discuss policy change. This is unfortunetly yet another notch in America's mass shooting belt buckle. I spoke with a friend today, and he reminded me that after Sandy Hook, when our hearts were ripped from our chests, and tiny innocent children were massacred ... We did ... Nothing.
Sure, we light candles. We have moments of silence. We pray. We honor the victims. We tell their stories, look at their pictures. We say we will never forget. We change our profile pictures to show our support, and we donate money to help. We say we are united ... But when we unite, besides mourn, what are we united to do?
I recognize that gun control is a huge hot topic. My husband has guns, shoots guns regularly, and could even be called an "enthusiast". I used to really believe that I was a raging liberal in all things except gun laws. I live in Tennessee! This is gun country, right? But I can't keep ignoring the problem. I can't remain complacent and continue to do and say nothing. Yes, I recognize that guns don't walk themselves to an area and shoot themselves. I know that it's people who do the shooting. You don't need to remind me that guns don't kill people, people kill people. I used to sit on that side. I used to think that same very thing. I'm familiar with the concept. Unfortunetly, a lot of people are still dying. It isn't getting better. It's getting worse.
There is this incredibly powerful word ... One somebody recently brought to my attention that has been haunting me. "IF" ...
What IF we regulated our guns? What IF it was harder to get your hands on a semi automatic rifle? What IF we followed the European trend of keeping military weapons out of the hands of civilians? What IF we tried something different for a change?
I cannot pretend to have the answer. (I keep hoping somebody smarter than I, will think up a policy change that works for everybody, or most everybody!) I can only answer in the land of IF. But man, I'm so ready to try. I'm so ready to see a decrease in massacres. I'm ready to not worry that my children will get shot at in places that they should be safe. I'm ready to not worry about my husband working in the public. I'm ready to stop seeing populated areas as targets. Aren't you?
And ... I'm ready for the media to change.
No more glorifying these killers. I don't want to see their pictures. I don't want to know who they are. The people our focus should be on ... Are the victims. The lives cut short. The faces and stories of those who were prematurely ripped from us. They deserve to be honored. They deserve to be remembered. They are the front page story, not the psychopaths who killed them.
And Orlando. I think it's important to call a spade a spade. Orlando was not an ISIS orchestrated attack. I don't care if ISIS allegiance was pledged just beforehand. This was hate. This was homophobia. This targeted a specific community. I'm not going to respond to this massacre by buying into the media's push for Islamaphobia. I despise ISIS as much as anyone, but they didn't go for the gay bar in Orlando. Hate and homophobia did that.
I've had some great, truly magical times in gay bars. Times spent dancing the night away with my best friends. Watching drag queens be more fabulous than I could ever imagine being. Compliments being spewed from every direction, in every direction. Gay bars are the best bars. They are fun. They are colorful. They're a place where you are free to be you ... To let your hair down and relax. They are accepting, even of straight people like me. (Which sadly, is not always reciprocated in "mainstream" bars.) Gay bars are much like the LGBTQ community: welcoming, warm, fun and friendly. Full of LOVE.
My heart has been in a million tiny pieces over this. I told a good friend today that it hurts us the most when we can truly relate. I mourned Sandy Hook - a room of first graders was targeted the year my sweet son was in first grade. I too clearly could imagine the grief; the loss. Orlando is too personal, yet again. Pulse was the kind of place that my friends would go to ... the kind of place that I would go. The victims were my age, and some even younger. These people were like any number of my friends. I cannot fathom the evil that drives a person to do commit such an atrocity - to anybody - let alone a minority group seeking refuge in a place of acceptance. It makes my stomach churn and churn.
I'm so sick of how commonplace mass shootings have become. I will mourn, I will grieve, I will donate, share in moments of silence, and draw up memorials. I won't forget. And I'll unite - but this time, for change.
My heart is with you Orlando.