Across the Margin, to conclude our 12 days of holiday stories lovingly termed ‘Across the Holidays’, offers a few holiday wishes in the wake of some unimaginable hurt…
A meticulously gift-wrapped serving of compassion. Bottomless and fulfilling, it will enable us all to finally care about each other, and our children, enough to do whatever it takes to stop us from hurting one another. Something is broken, shattered beyond belief, and only with genuine concern and perseverance can we effect real change.
A touch of understanding, peeking ever so slightly from an overfilled holiday stocking and hung by the chimney with care. An understanding by gun advocates that those of us calling for reform fully appreciate that the problem is more complex than merely the existence of guns in our society ((“We know this is a complex issue that stirs deeply held passions and political divides. And as I said on Sunday night, there’s no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. We’re going to need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun. We’re going to need to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence. And any actions we must take must begin inside the home and inside our hearts. But the fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing. The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence doesn’t mean we can’t steadily reduce the violence, and prevent the very worst violence.” – Barack Obama)), and they can begin to understand that the presence of firearms is certainly a part of the problem. Controlling firearms will not keep them out of the hands of criminals or murderers, but if it makes it just a touch harder for them to obtain a gun then that alone would make it worth doing. If it can prevent even a few people from suffering so deeply…..it has to be worth it.
A dose of education, placed lovingly within a compact red gift-box reserved normally for jewelry, and tucked neatly beneath the tree. This measure of education is such that we can all share and grow from it, becoming more aware about mental illness and how to deal with its effects. It also gives us the foresight to work on improving mental health services in the United States and advancing our efforts to provide help to families in need. Its power is such that it allows us freedom from the naivety of painting all mental illness with one broad stroke, as the mentally handicapped are not monsters but people, albeit misunderstood. We must challenge the paradigms, questioning why it is easier to obtain weapons than sufficient care for families and individuals struggling with the facets of mental health.
A bright red box, shimmering and festive, fastened with an over-sized green bow and containing a strength that allows us to not be scared anymore. To not live in fear. Which instills in us a power, free of selfishness, that allows us to look in the mirror as a collective “WE” and come to grips with the fact that true change cannot come without sacrifice, without concessions. We will not move forward until we admit that what we thought was wrong and that we owe it to ourselves, and to our children, to change. Throughout the history of this country we have borne witness to the duality of our nature, of our ability to enact both greatness and horror. We have to recognize the difference and choose to become a strong and mindful people.
A parcel, bursting at the seams, overfilled with an abundance of fairness for all. Many of those in opposition to increased gun legislation speak of the rights afforded them by our Constitution ((The 2nd Amendment in full: “ A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The idea was never to give freedom of bearing arms for freelance vigilantism. The purpose of the Amendment was to subdue violent uprisings, not enhance them. Since the Bill of Rights was signed we now have, as a Nation, a fully equipped Army to defend us from a foreign invasion, and a National Guard to protect us at home. We no longer need a militia, a fact that escapes the logical thinking of the paranoid paramilitary assemblage.)) . We believe that it is only fair, to us and to all the citizens of our country, that our right to feel safe is correspondingly acknowledged. That we have the right to walk our streets without unease. That we have the right to take in a movie or frequent a shopping mall free of worry. And that we have the right to drop our children off at school, sending them off into the world with a hug, knowing full well that we will see them again, alive and smiling.
A gift bag, seasonally decorated, with an ocean of green and red tissue paper spilling forth, filled to the brim with reason. Reason enough for us all to admit that there is a bonafide problem. The establishing of a rationale stating that more weapons can undoubtedly only lead to more problems. And for it to be generally accepted that no one is maliciously trying to limit the rights of others given to us by our founding fathers, but that we are just trying to do what is necessary to truly protect our children. If the right to bear arms comes continually at the cost of lives, than we have to decide what is more important. This is an easy decision.
A medium-sized gift box, wrapped with elegant gold paper, adorned with a hand-written gift tag addressed to: ALL, and filled with the belief that we are better than this.
An unwrapped gift, radiating patience, and lying peacefully alone beneath an undressed tree. A patience to allow us to better handle those who hide behind an outdated amendment. That call for more guns in our schools and in our streets ((A thought that scares us to the core – looking at you NRA – you called for more weapons in school on the one week anniversary of pure horror. Unbelievable.)) under the guise of protection. Protection from the very problems they create, the vigilante justice that more often than not only leads to more hurt and more death ((The Harvard Injury Control Research Center reviewed the literature of firearms and homicide and found that there is substantial evidence that more guns means more murders. Also, states with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun related violence. This is fact.)). A patience to listen to those who bring hunting and outdoor sportsmanship into the conversation or distract us with commentary on the failures of our nations war on drugs. Patience to endure those who who argue for more guns to protect themselves from government, a form of defense against tyranny ((This perceived protection is wholly unrealistic when dealing with a country that’s defense budget, last year alone, was 664 billion dollars.)). Patience to maintain sanity when learning that there are organizations so narrow in thought and hateful in action that they would honestly believe it is righteous to picket the funeral of a child or a soldier ((Westboro Baptist Church, looking at you.)). And a patience to come to terms with those that truly believe these atrocities, all this senseless violence, is simply filling a hole vacated by the lack of prayer in education ((Mike Huckabee, looking right at you.)).
A long, yet thin, rectangular box that would commonly hold a button down shirt or a pair of woolen socks is today, filled with the fortitude to see this through; to not forget as we have before. To not let the hand of time distract us from our goals. That when the coldness of Winter settles down upon us, and the Super Bowl and the Inauguration vie for our attention, that we continue to remember the innocent lives lost –to keep their sacrifice in plain sight– and to fight on, doing whatever we can to make sure this doesn’t happen ever again ((“Unless someone cares, and cares a whole lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss)). When the pain of our most recent tragedies begins to fade we cannot–like we so often do–pretend that the problem has disappeared. Almost 25 people in the United States are killed everyday by guns–that comes out to almost 9,000 a year! And most of those people deaths don’t make national news, didn’t bring us together as a nation. They are the unknown soldiers of this war. The faceless victims of senseless violence. We cannot lose sight that this problem goes far beyond mass shootings or the thousands of children that are lost every year to firearm related violence. And we cannot lose sight of the fact that the focus of our national attention needs to be on guns that are obtained both legally and illegally, as there have been exactly 30 mass murders since Columbine ((61 since 1982)) with the gross majority of these carried out using a weapon that was obtained legally.
We are not powerless in the face of these numbers, these acts of carnage. We have the strength to overcome.
Buried deep beneath a heaping mass of presents lies a simple box of hope, unwrapped and addressed to all concerned. A hope that the media will see the error of its ways, and that in their attempts to secure ratings they further endanger our lives. A hope that instead of glorifying these monsters, the headlines could be saved for more virtuous people. Those who inspire. We hope that a responsible media may rise forth from the ashes of this horror, one that chooses not to prey on our fears and give murderers exactly what they want, fame ((This media also must soon realize that it is time to leave Newtown. An intrusive camera and a pushy reporter does little to help people who are seriously hurting, heal.)).
A hand knitted sweater that will cover the world, holding in loves inviting warmth, a love we all so very much need right now. This sweater, when worn, gives us the perfect amount of love required to put all else aside and do whatever it takes to make sure that we all live to see another day. A love that creates for us a world free from the mass killings of innocent people. A love that allows us to not let 26 people die for no reason whatsoever. And a love to never forget them.