Speaking Up on Gun Violence

Where I live, it’s cloudy and rainy today. Yesterday, when I was looking at the weather forecast, the cold rainy weather seemed appropriate – we had planned to put our dog to sleep today. Why shouldn’t the weather reflect my emotions?

And yet, I had no idea the amount of grief I would face today in confronting yet another school shooting. The tragedy of it is so indescribable and it comes to me at a particularly challenging time.

You see, I have been reflecting quite a bit on death lately given some news in our family as well as the death of our 13-year-old beloved pet.

We have been talking with our kids about the certainty of death. We all die. 

In the best of ways, confronting the absoluteness of death can provide a sort of personal compass. Am I living the right way? Am I on the right path? How am I spending my time? Who am I spending it with? What am I chasing? Does doing so bring me joy and fulfillment? Am I contributing to society in a way that benefits more than just me?

And yet, confronting the absoluteness of death shouldn’t come like it has, in the way it has, for all of us last week and this. It shouldn’t be like this. Death like this is preventable and it shouldn’t come so soon. 

But it has.

Whether you are facing your own personal loss or sharing in the collective loss and grief that comes out of Buffalo last week, and Texas this week, you are probably asking yourself a lot of challenging questions. And if the answers don’t satisfy you, change something. 

Personally, I feel that moments like this compel us to act on both a macro and a micro level.  What do I mean by that? I mean that each of us should be actively advocating for and making changes to benefit all of society as a whole and making changes to benefit our individual lives.

On a macro level each of us should be working to bring more permanent change so we don’t continue to wake up to the same news next week or next month or next year. Because if we don’t do something, we can expect the same news with just as much certainty as we can expect our own deaths.  Things aren’t going to change in this country if we don’t change them

On a micro level each of us should be actively working to bring our own lives in line with our personal values. Each of us should consider our personal trajectories – if we don’t change something if we are ok with where we will end up? Things aren’t going to change for you personally if you don’t change them. 

So what can you do?  Here are some ideas:

How You Can Stop Gun Violence – at a Macro/Systemic Level

  • Call and Email your Representative in Federal Congress and and the Senate. It’s not that hard. Here is how to do it
  • Call your State Representative. Unfortunately, there is less that can be done on a local level, but there are still some changes that can be made at the state level to make gun laws more restrictive. To find your state representative just google “How to find my representative in ______ [name of state].” Your state will have a website that directs you to your local representatives.
  • Donate to a political representative. Find politicians that support more restrictive gun laws and donate to their campaigns.
  • Volunteer for a campaign. Needed just as much as dollars are volunteers. If you can’t donate to a candidate, volunteer your time.
  • Run for office yourself. There is no better way to create change than to do it yourself. Run for office.
  • Vote. If you do nothing else. Vote. Because your life, your kid’s life, depends on it. 

How You Can Stop Gun Violence From Affecting You Personally

Sadly, I wish I had a longer list here. But right now, in the United States, we are all at risk. Sure, there are states with lower gun violence. The CDC has a list here – you can move to Hawaii or Massachusetts, but the firearm mortality rate in these states are still significantly higher than most of the rest of the world. If you stay in the United States, you can move to the woods, homeschool your kids, and not interact with anyone. But that hardly seems like a good idea. 

The Bottom Line

The only way to create change is to speak up, stand up, and start taking action. First, be grateful for the moments you have. Hug your kids a little tighter for a little longer. Then get out there and do something.