And This Will Be Our Penance

And This Will Be Our Penance June 21, 2016

Just to recap… Conservative leaders are running on platforms of “zero tolerance” for terrorism–and  Muslims in general, as though that is all the same thing. And yet, those same leaders voted today that it’s A-OK for people on the FBI no-fly list to buy weapons of mass destruction. Because perhaps the FBI is just being twitchy when they say these folks are a threat to society.
Because rights. And freedom. You know the drill.

Here is what I now know: when this country’s sick romance with guns, nothing is going to change until every single person–including every single lawmaker–has experienced the tragic loss of someone they love.
I am not wishing for that to happen. I am not hoping for that day to come. But it is absolutely coming. At this rate, there will be no family left standing who has not absorbed the weight of this horror. When that day comes, something will have to give. We will get it figured out. But as a nation, I doubt we will ever be able to bear the weight of what it has cost us.

In fact, we will never know what it has cost us. We will never know what would have become of the lives lost in our countless senseless massacres.

And this will be our penance… The knowledge that the child who might have grown up to cure cancer was in an ill-fated classroom at Sandy Hook.

That the millennial who held the keys to saving the environment was out dancing in Orlando on the wrong fucking night, bro.

That the teacher who would call out the next generation of educators, scientists and political visionaries, had just landed their dream job at Virginia Tech.

That the next Martin Luther King was at a prayer meeting in South Carolina and never got to say amen.

That the artist who might deliver the next cinematic masterpiece, took his last breaths in a movie theater as the villain came to life.

That the diplomat who might have brokered peace in the Middle East went, as a child, to a grocery store in Tucson one day. There, she hoped to meet one of her political role models, the very image of what she might one day become.

But she never became. None of them did.

How many more of these could we tell? We will never know.

And this is the price we pay for our pandemic passivity. This not knowing. This agonizing glimpse of the world that might have been.

May God have mercy on us.

CC0 via flickr, Roseli Serra
CC0 via flickr, Roseli Serra

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