Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Take Away the Oceans and the Stars

Guadalupe Valley, Mexico
Bruma Winery

But let’s keep our sympathies where they belong — with the powerful and the armed. With those who feel threatened in the face of the most toothless efforts to hold back the bloodshed and those who believe scary monster stories about their guns being taken away. Let’s face it, it would be easier to take away the ocean or the stars.
from Please Don't Get Murdered at School Today, by Kimberly Harrington 

Yesterday, I engaged in a long and sometimes over-wrought yet reasonable discussion with a gun enthusiast that went to high school with me in the last century. He gave me the usual arguments -- the Second Amendment, his rights, his love of hunting, his responsible gun use, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Love of nature, the eradication of deer pests. He put words in my mouth (my tiny little mother mind mouth™), insisted that I didn't understand hunting because I was a coastal elite.  I thought hmmm in my coastal elite way and stayed polite with an edge of defensiveness. He ranted a bit about sanctuary cities, said he knew a family who had lost a relative to a murderous illegal immigrant. He digressed, as did I. He was sick to death of his rights being threatened. I pointed out that he was "winning," essentially -- that he had the backing of federal law, however loosely interpreted, as well as the efforts of the most powerful lobby the country has ever known. I asked him how many guns he'd need to hunt deer for food, keep deer contained (this being an example of the responsible use of guns) and to protect his family.

He answered, 11, for a family of five. Shotguns were in there, as were rifles, I think, and a couple of pistols. I questioned his fear. He said he feared very little and neither should you.

I felt sick to death the rest of the evening and deleted the conversation.

Today, when I expressed my horror at what happened in Florida, when I gave in and said, Fuck guns, melt them all down, get rid of them, I was told to go get sterilized by another person, someone whom I don't know. I clicked on his Facebook page and saw that he was an older white man, somewhat puffy, surrounded by children. God was mentioned several times on his public page, as were fostering children, and sobriety was a common theme. He frequently used the word pussy in a derogatory way.


Aside from the growing piles of dead children, what breaks my heart is my own children's cynicism regarding these school shootings. Perhaps it's a way to defuse their own emotions, to dissociate from their own terror and confusion that this is where we are as a country. Both of my sons state that it'll never change, that there's no point to any of it, that there will always be guns and always be shootings and death and blood and people who justify guns and shootings and death and blood as part of being free.

Today at a Florida high school


  1. Is it cynicism or is it despair, glossed over to make it more palatable? I ask that question for myself.
    I found myself in a FB argument over a completely unrelated topic, my anger obviously bleeding out in any direction whatsoever, doing no good (whatsoever), and it didn't make me feel better (whatsoever) and we live in a country where god and guns are linked and fused into one patriarchal phallus of power.
    I do not see this changing any time soon.

    1. You are right — the despair of people too young to have to feel it, I guess.

  2. Thank you for speaking to the sorrowful truth of life in the United States since 1492, as all of us currently live through World War III. We are all living in a war zone now. Our country has practiced war with the use of guns and bombs in other countries for my entire life, not to mention the genocide, slavery, and war after war, including the incinerating of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which is not all that different from the gas chambers and ovens of the Nazis. Our country's history has shadows than cannot be denied anymore, including the growing shadow of the medical industry.

    Today, we are no more safe from guns and bombs than the people our country terrorizes regularly in the Middle East. This morning I am thinking of Octavia Butler's book, Parable of the Sower, where those fleeing what had become a war zone had a vision of peace and yet still carried guns. What to make of that? And then I think of "Damn you masters of war, you who build the big guns ..."

    We know that war and guns solve nothing. They are the cause and result of fear, which causes more war.

    I'd like to think that the darkest hour is before the dawn. I listen to Mavis Staples singing, "Have a little faith, my friend, we've got to help each other, through thick and thin. These are trying times that we're living in. Have a little faith, I say, have a little faith, my friend." I'm not a religious person, but Mavis speaks to me about what I can do while living in a war zone. We are the help that she speaks of that is on the way. We are not alone.

    I hope that your sons are thinking along these lines when they say things will never change:

    “All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn't that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn't die.” (John Steinbeck)

    We can refuse to live in fear. That's what faith is about. Faith is love in nonviolent action. Easy to say. Not so easy to live, but I don't know what else I can do for our children, for their future. Not forgetting those who have died. Grieving fully and finding the strength that remains.

  3. I don't see any point discussing this or contributing money or energy to the cause. If we didn't act after Sandy Hook, if that wasn't enough, what is? This is a sickening, debauched aspect of our sick country. As for the law makers who don't support serious gun control. Vote them out. They're the same people who are supporting other heinous ideas.

  4. "piles of dead children" - very powerful, while puffy white men may not change, politics do. Never give up!

  5. Change is slow but I believe we can now vote in gun violence prevention candidates and boot the NRA bought and paid for candidates out of office. It’s already happening. I too despair but then I get back up because the alternative is to lay down an die. Literally.

  6. And this is a powerful post. I am glad you engage these debates. Soul wearying as they are. I am so grateful for you in the world.

  7. This happened right in my backyard, someone we know lost her best friend. I'm bombarding Marco Rubio even if I do feel cynical and weary. Angella's right, the alternative is to lie down and die.

  8. I'm glad you bring reason to discussions like the above. I doubt your words affected him much, he seems pretty dug in as are most who hold his disconnected and destructive thinking. But it has to be said and I can't think of anyone who could do it better. Powerful post.
    I'm more sad for you in hearing Henry and Oliver's thoughts about what's going on than I am that they think them. They are on the cusp of something more. They're so smart, they will move forward. I just love those boys.

  9. Well I just typed a whole long comment and then Blogger ate it. But suffice to say, when it comes to guns, I don't understand any of it.

  10. Things do change. People change. Steven Pinker's book Enlightenment Now speaks to change in historical sweep. Cynisysm and despair are paralysis. Humanity and kindness will win.



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