When 9/11 occurred, we did nothing and learned nothing.
When Columbine hit the news and parents could no longer see schools as a place of safety that was not riddled with bullets and the ensuing mayhem, we didn’t learn.
When twenty of our most vulnerable were gunned down in Sandy Hook, we didn’t learn.
Vegas, schools in Texas and Florida and we still refuse to see our part in creating an environment that condones and worships domination in its most extreme form- death of another human being.
In the brilliant Rhythm Nation 1814, Janet Jackson croons on “Living in a World”,that children so often are at the affect of what the adults around allow and accommodate.
She sings about a world where “grownups make the rules”.
Part of me wants to believe that people are good.
The fifty year old me has seen people do horrific things to one another and especially children and understands that some people, as the old black folks used to say, can’t get “no type of at right”, no matter how many times you encourage them to change.
We must start with the belief that domination and hurting others is not the natural state of human affairs/interaction.
Many movements and gurus predict that violence will always find a way to reinvent itself and provide torture and suffering for humanity.
My belief is that we are not born wanting to inflict and or receive pain. We are born wanting to connect and help one another develop and fulfill all of our potential.
When you provide ways to effectively deal with conflict, misunderstandings and miscommunication, you offer young people and those that influence them ways of interacting that leave everyone feeling uplifted, seen and heard.
Whether it’s the aggressiveness of sports or the uber competitiveness of parental pimping of their offspring to make sure they get into the “right” schools, neighborhoods and jobs, we often attempt to raise children who are competent, confident and savvy.
We’ve allowed our children to think in very strict binary terms, which prevents little understanding of the concept of collective goals and community uplift.
As a culture, America has always loved and supported violence, aggression and domination.
America was built on violence, domination and the demonization of the “other”.
Well before Columbus arrived on these shores to seduce and then betray the Native Americans, Europe’s most violent inhabitants were shipped here to rape and pillage.
Once the Native Americans proved to be less than amenable to idea of enslavement, dominators looked to Africa and the Caribbean for a steady supply of workers/slaves who could be dominated and mistreated.
Violence, domination and a lack of respect for human life and potential is something we teach our children.
We teach that the only thing that matters is how much you can get and that you better end up #1.
In the brilliant, truthful and highly disturbing, Project Girl, by Janet McDonald she states: Much of my anger stems from the American life-style, the conditional need to be at the apex of everything to feel like you’re worth anything. To be Michael Jackson- dazzingly talented, shockingly wealthy, eternally young, amazingly pure, appealingly androgynous. I feel that is the impossible dream we Americans are taught to strive for, to be the Michael Jackson of law, of journalism, of medicine, of business, of crime, of insanity. And look what a nightmare he’s living.
As a culture that both worships all that is male (definition meaning violence) while simultaneously ascribing it with all of society’s ills and tomfoolery, we have much work that needs to be handled if what we’re looking for is a way to prevent our children from being slaughtered.
What would it mean to eliminate our military and all firearms?
People will say that this thinking is insane and a bunch of other things that are less than complimentary.
Yet, children being murdered in school is not ridiculous.
If everyone agrees that murdering our children is wrong why do we allow it?
We are over your pointless prayers and minute long silences.
We are now demanding new laws and ongoing therapy and grief sessions for all Americans.
America is a country steeped in guilt (my behavior has been deplorable), shame (my god what an awful individual I am)and overwhelming, unprocessed and unidentified grief.
As Ashley Judd said in her wonderful book, All That is Bitter and Sweet– pain that is not transformed is transferred.
As a culture, we have so much pain (racism, violence, misogyny, white supremacy) that has yet be recognized, grieved and let go of.
It really will take all of us to collectively say “no more”.
No more murdering of our children while we watch, pray and hope folks get some good sense and a good therapist.
No more to parents who are so busy surviving they have no idea that their children are in immense pain because it reminds them of their own and they’d rather not deal with either.
No more to folks that take our money and votes and are complete idiots with no cajones to make sure our children are safe.
Small and powerful groups have begun to disrupt shit.
Moms Demand Action is a group determined to make change.
Small groups of people always start revolutions and it is up to all of us to lead them.
My gut tells me that no one (parent or not) wants to see dead children or live with the fear that the last time they see their child will be the last time they see their child.
If what we want is serious,unrelenting transformation of a culture steeped in violence then we must do things that are odd and make us uncomfortable.
People always holler for change until they realize you are speaking to and about them and their vile, unproductive behavior.
We are often willing to wait for change.
And yet, we can no longer wait while children die.
We can no longer hope(which is never a productive/effective strategy) that things will change and people will see the error in their ways.
We can no longer wait for Washington or our local government to do something.
It is time we volunteered at schools, demand that mental health and self esteem workshops be taught and required for both parents and students.
We are responsible for the change no matter the level of responsibility it requires.
As adults we must create worlds and communities that take into account what every child needs to feel safe, whole and happy.
Let’s create a new world dedicated to love, change and a commitment to peace and a world where there is no word to describe violence, mass shootings and unsafe schools.