December 16, 2012

Category: Real Talk

When Children Die


“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”
― Mahatma Gandhi, The Essential Gandhi

I was going to blog about the politics of Black hair on Friday, but when 20 young children are shot dead you have to pull back and readjust to what’s really relevant. Whenever a child dies I feel like the earth stands still and gets a little smaller. It just shouldn’t happen. Parents shouldn’t have to bury their babies. But it happens. However, when we have to funeralize a 6-year old who’s been shot by a semiautomatic weapon in their 1st grade classroom while getting ready for finger painting, then something in all of us stops and we all shrink in horror and despair. Friday’s tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut gave us all pause. Made us all shiver. Even President Obama could not stop his tears from streaming when he addressed the press: “The majority of those who died today were children– beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10-years-old. They had their entire lives ahead of them– birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own,” he hesitantly uttered unable to control his grief.

Watching the Melissa Harris-Perry show yesterday, I discovered that 2012 was a record setting year in terms of gun violence. From a Seattle café to a movie theater in Aurora to a Sikh temple in Oak Creek to an elementary school in Newtown there have been more mass shootings this year than ever!

Did you know that 32 people are killed everyday in this country by guns? And I just heard on CBS Sunday Morning that Black Friday broke records and not for the number of iPads sold, but for the number of guns purchased. In that one day 154,000 guns were purchased (and those were just the ones that went through an FBI check). 2 million guns were bought in November. It’s astounding, if not confounding that in Connecticut, as it is in most states, it’s easier for a mother who lives with a mentally ill child to buy a .223 Bushmaster semiautomatic assault rifle than it is for a mother with ovarian cancer to get medical marijuana? This is not the face of evil this is the face of irresponsibility.

Comrade Kyra Gaunt posted the following on her Facebook page:

“The Governor of CT said ‘Evil visited this community today.’ We always evoke the notion that ‘evil’ is around us or caused X when we don’t want to take responsibility for the sociological interconnectedness of us all and of all things. Don’t be misled by the abdication of responsibility.”

The use of the word “evil” by Connecticut’s governor to describe the shooting seemed odd to me too. When I think of evil I think of Darth Vader. We may like to believe that shooting another person, a child no less, is the work of a supernatural evil, a poltergeist, if you will. The gun violence that occurred at Sandy Hook elementary school and in that Aurora movie theater and at New Life Church and on the streets of Chicago and New Orleans are committed by people against other people. There is no evil gold ring possessing the minds of these people. There’s no “this doesn’t happen here” with the implication that it happens only to “them.” There is no them. There is just us and a looming, rarely addressed problem of mental illness combined with American culture’s fixation with violence and an easy access to semi-automatic guns and rifles. We need to speak up and at the very least ban semiautomatic weapons. No one in Newtown, Connecticut or in Detroit, Michigan needs this type of weaponry.

My prayers for healing and peace to the families, friends and to all of the precious children touched and traumatized by the shooting in Newtown.

I’ll just end with this quote by Einstein.

“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
― Albert Einstein


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