What if it was You?

What if it was You? May 27, 2022

Jesus Wept. Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jeffrey Straka Public Domain

I am an Okie. I grew up with guns. I have no problem with gun ownership.

But the mass slaughters that keep repeating throughout our country have got to stop.

The sense of personal immunity which fuels our national indifference to these appalling slaughters is based on an illusion. That illusion is the belief on the part of those who haven’t been touched by the violence yet, that they have  have a special shield of invulnerability around them. You are indifferent to mass shootings because you believe that you and your family will never be the victims.

This illusion persists even though mass murders at the hands of what are mostly young men who are heavily armed with weapons and body armor used in warfare are occurring in increasing numbers. The illusion continues even though no demographic is exempt for attack. In the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary,  you believe that you and your family are safe; that you and the people you love cannot die at the hands of a mass shooter.

Large numbers of Americans are willing to accept the deaths of other people because they feel safe. They think that the dead and maimed will always be somebody else. It will never be them or their loved ones.

Watching these tragedies unfold has become a morbid form of entertainment. We sit absorbed in the grief and misery, and it makes us feel sympathy from the safe distance of our own unaltered belief that we are somehow immune to ever experiencing it ourselves.

But the truth is that no one is safe. No one is immune. We are spinning the chamber and betting that our bullet won’t come up.

It has become clear that there is no number of deaths that will move people who are fixated on what they call “gun rights” to change course. They want all forms of armament available in an open retail situation like cornflakes. And they want to be able to carry these weapons and wear the garb of soldiers going into combat to the grocery store and around town.

It’s playacting for most of them, or at least I hope it is. But there is still something unbalanced about anyone who would want to do this. The people I’ve known who have fought in combat won’t talk about it, much less parade around town wearing the clothing they wore at those times. They may have a hunting rifle or a hand gun. But I have never known a combat veteran who wanted to play with weapons of war as if they were toys.

The fanatics in this not-so-little club are mostly poseurs, searching for something in themselves.

I am not writing this post for those people. I don’t speak their language. I’d rather talk to the sincere Christians among you who sincerely believe in the sanctity of human life and the realists who have the guts to take reality on reality’s terms. 

We have been living in fantasy built of lies. The first lie is that only other people get killed by shooter’s bullets. I live in the city where a vicious right wing nut job blew up our federal building on a beautiful April morning and slaughtered almost 200 innocent people. He parked the truck containing his bomb directly under a day care. I heard the bomb go off and felt the concussion of it as it rattled the windows of my house. 

I know a secret the rest of you don’t get. None of us has special immunity from these killers. It could be you. It could be your kids. If this goes on long enough, it will be you or people you know. 

This pretend helplessness in the face of mass shootings is just one part of the evil that this insanity inflicts on our country. But for the victims it is everything there is. We are allowing innocent people to be murdered repeatedly in large numbers and we are not doing anything about it because we are paralyzed by the extreme right wing which is getting money and votes for paralyzing us.

We are allowing them to do this to us because we are living in the absurd illusion that we are personally immune to these tragedies. It hasn’t happened to us, and, in much the same way that we pretend to ourselves that we will never die, we believe that it never will happen to us.

But that is a lie and a illusion. Anyone, including you, can be the next victim. Instead of pretending that you can’t do anything and tossing up your hands, take a moment and consider if your indifference would be worth it if it happened to you. How much are you willing to give? 

Are you willing to sacrifice your child?

Are you willing to be shot by a murderer roaming the aisles of the grocery story where you went to pick up bread?

Is burying your grandchild an equitable price to pay for blindly following right wing politicians and refusing to see reality?

Are you ready to die for your denial?

You have been willing for quite some time to sacrifice other people’s lives and families for these things. How much of your own blood are you willing to pour out?

If you really, truly, believe that the basic right to life is more important that any other right, how can you support those who do nothing to stop these murders? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself. The answer is I can’t. 

The right to life is the basic human right. Without a universal right to life, no other human right matters.

The right to life does not end at birth.

We have let these killings continue for decades while we sat on our hands like helpless idiots and did nothing to stop them. If we allow the morally dead Republican Party to set our agenda, we will continue doing nothing.

Every time one of these shootings happens, right wing politicians go into riffs about “mental health.” Then, after the dust settles, they cut spending for mental health.

Every time one of these shootings happens in a school, they riff about school safety. Then, after the outrage cools, they do nothing about school safety. Instead, they demonize our schools, attack our teachers and foment rage directed at them in order to keep their base motivated to blindly vote R in the next election.

Nothing happens to stop these shootings because that is what right wing politicians want and we give them power to get what they want. The day when political opposition to legal abortion meant we had to put up with anything these guys do is over. 

We never have to vote for them again if we don’t want to. We can demand better. It’s our duty as people of life to do just that. 

I favor the right to keep and bear arms. I am opposed to “taking away our guns.” But these killings must stop. I do not want any more dead children.

I will not kill people. And I will not help you — or anyone — kill people.

If the choice is your politics or the life of an innocent person, chose life.

If the choice is your “rights” or the life of an innocent person, chose life.

If the choice is your money or the life of an innocent person, chose life.

If the choice is your desire to win an election or the life of an innocent person, chose life.

If the choice is fitting in with your Republican friends or the life of an innocent person, chose life.

If the choice is the life of an innocent person, there is no choice.

Chose life.

It is possible to preserve Second Amendment rights and still protect our citizens. But it is impossible to do that without demanding that right wing politicians stop blocking every effort to help We the People and do their jobs by ensuring the public health and safety.  

Will the next shooting take your child?

Will it be you, hiding beneath the table in the restaurant? Will you find yourself crouched between the seats of a movie theater, praying while the bullets rip into the people around you, or running in blind terror as others fall bleeding and wounded at a rock concert? Will you be one of the ones hiding in the bathroom or the closet? Will your child hide under the body of her best friend, listening to her friend’s last breaths as the shooter roams the room seeking another target?

Will it be you, sitting for hours in an auditorium, waiting to learn if your child/spouse/parent is one of the dead?

This isn’t a movie folks. It isn’t entertainment. This real death, real grief, real anguish.

If you are a Christian who believes in the sanctity of human life it is a moral imperative to demand that your duly elected officials work to end these shooting. 

On the other hand, if you are just a realist who sees the fact that it could, at any time, be you or someone you love facing a death at the hand of shooter, demanding less verbal garbage and more real action from your elected officials is a matter of survival. 

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