Resilience Rooted in a Senate Fail

It somehow seemed fitting that it was pouring rain in DC this morning. It felt like the tears of the country mourning the painful vote that took place in the Senate yesterday.There is no doubt this week has been rough. I’m one of those people who feels so deeply that I’m sometimes challenged to let go of what I hear on the news. I internalize what happens to others. I empathize to the point of feeling overwhelmed by grief. Over the past few days, I’ve been wrecked by the destructive intentions of a very sick person in Boston. And now, I’m crushed by a group of senators who chose to act out of fear—fear of losing monetary support and power—rather than compassion for the millions of victims of gun violence in our country. When given the opportunity to prevent dangerous individuals from acquiring firearms, they chose to line their own pockets. They banked on the money they will reap in NRA donations and they turned away from mourning families, a former colleague who was shot in the head, and what will surely be the certainty of the next time.  

There is no doubt that something feels wrong with the world today. Broken. Irreparable even.

So many thought Newtown was the event that would be a turning point, and today, they are shaking their heads and saying, “I guess it wasn’t.” If you are one of them, please read on.

We cannot throw up our hands in defeat (though we may want to throw up). We cannot send that dejected, negative, hopeless energy out into the world. If we decide we have lost, we have. If we decide they have won, they have. It is natural to think that what happened on December 14th would have an equal and opposite reaction. Of course there would be sweeping gun legislation with overwhelming support that changed this issue from every angle. Of course. Background checks, assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, mental health, and the video game industry. Those expectations—those very logical expectations—are why today feels so shocking. But it’s vital to realize we are still on that path. And although Newtown didn’t lead to a clear finish line, it has taken us to the next step. What happened yesterday is part of our process—and the process is not linear.

In the weeks following mid-December, I noticed the visceral reaction I had while watching Wayne LaPierre speak. I was physically ill hearing him advocate for guns in schools. And more guns. And more guns. I feared he was spreading poisonous thoughts that the public would buy into. That somehow his influence would effectively move us further from logical next steps. At some point though, I realized (or at least decided) that every time he opened his mouth, it helped people like me. The crazy thoughts that spewed so naturally from LaPierre and NRA President David Keene caused an uprising. They spurred the formation of groups that are now followed by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, who raised a ton of money in support of gun control legislation. So as the weeks passed, when I’d stumble on an interview with Mr. LaPierre or one of his cronies, I’d think, “Go ahead, open another can of crazy talk and let’s see what happens.” What happened yesterday was the largest can of crazy yet. And although we’ve been hit hard, this ain’t over. This movement will have more support, more awareness, and more money than before (thank you, Michael Bloomberg). It may take until November 2014, but to quote my former boss, “Things are gonna get interesting before they get dull.”

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