Warning: quasi-political/societal rant below the fold.
For some reason my truck decided to start collecting water in the driver’s door every time it rained. I looked pretty hard and couldn’t see where there was a drain clogged, although there kind of has to be, because I’ve had the truck for a year and a half; this only started happening about six weeks ago. So I finally said f-this and drilled a 3/16" hole. “FIXED THE TRUCK DOOR!” I called out, in Chevy Chase / Christmas Vacation fashion.
On a totally unrelated note, I tend to stay off social media, news, and technology in general over the weekends. Everyone says, “your kids are only small once, enjoy them while you can, etc.” so I really do try to focus on them when I’m not doing the necessary chores, or whatever else the weekend throws at me. Weekends are about family for me.
So today I came into work, checked the news, and almost shut off my computer and walked out of work. I mean, I know that yet another mass shooting is just par-for-the-f**king course at this point, and I really should not be surprised. Nor should I be any more upset about this one than the last (big) one that killed twice as many and injured way more.
I guess as a parent, when I think about my kids and how I try to keep them from getting a splinter by telling them to wear shoes on the deck; then I hear about this stuff happening at such a huge variety of places... I just lose hope that everything will be okay. I just cannot grasp how this country got to where it is, with citizens shooting fellow citizens at such an alarming rate, and not always for any reason at all. I think, “what is preventing someone from going to their preschool, today, and shooting everyone. Why wouldn’t I think that could happen, even in my sleepy New England town?” Because it could happen.
I want to go pick them up from school and go live in the mountains somewhere in Canada. Or Switzerland. Or any other place with less gun violence, like Afghanistan. I don’t even have time in my day to process how I feel about this egregious pattern of nonsensical violence, and the repetitive dialogue but complete lack of real action that follows every damn time. One could even argue that we are way too late in calling for sensible gun control. Not that we shouldn’t do it, but it just seems like we’re so far down the road at this point that real change will take generations. You know what doesn’t help? Having a President who says things like, “...maybe the 2nd amendment people could do something...” like, is that promoting gun-related violence? I’m not positive, but it definitely doesn’t sound like advocacy for the safety of all citizens.
Those people who keep telling me to enjoy my kids while they’re young, I don’t think it’s just because teenagers are eternally difficult. I think it’s because they know I’ll never sleep at night as well as I once did, thinking about my kids out there in the world - specifically, a world where they just might get gunned down at any time for no reason. Once they leave the house, I can’t do anything to protect them, and I hope they’ll be able to make safe, reasonable decisions on their own. That I can help them with, and I consider it my most important job as a parent.
I’m comfortable with reasonable risks. I ski and mountain bike, I could hit a tree one day and die. I drive on public roads with all the other crazies. If they want to play sports, or drive cars, or basically exist out there, they just might get struck by lightning (so to speak) and that’s life. But this kind of threat isn’t something we should be dealing with. It just isn’t. Maybe my kids will decide to move to literally any other developed country on Earth where gun violence is a small fraction of what it is here.
My wife was home on maternity leave with our first kid when Sandy Hook was in the news, and she was a wreck. Hormones, plus new responsibility of another human life, it was a lot. I empathized with her but didn’t have the same depth of feelings; but now every one of these incidents hits me a little harder as I have more and more of my life invested in my kids. Maybe that’s a weird way to explain it, but that’s how it feels. I thought at the time, for sure, Sandy Hook would be THE incident that literally every human being could get behind as something we absolutely, unconditionally, must never endure again as a society. Surely, meaningful legislation will follow. But no. Not really.
I don’t blame Republicans, or Democrats, or the NRA; it’s a larger issue, but the root problem isn’t that complicated. We’re all too busy with the minutiae of daily life to get behind any one cause to the point that it will precipitate substantive change. If we approached other problems like this, nothing would ever get done. Oh my god I have to do laundry, cook dinner, feed the pets, mow the lawn, clean the house, change my oil, and do my taxes, how will it ever be done? One thing at a time, that’s how. Prioritizing. So why can’t we take steps to end this? If one of those issues was people keep coming to my house and trying to shoot me, well I think I might address that before the laundry.
Just to end on a slightly lighter note, the Onion (re)published this headline after the weekend’s shooting. While I don’t condone the blatant recycling of a headline (albeit their own), it’s spot-on satire:
WTF people. If you’re still reading, thanks for letting me vent. I feel better having written some of this down, so that’s something, I guess.