Some hastily pulled together and admittedly disorganized thoughts
It’s not exactly news at this point. It happened again. Twice, actually. Scratch that. It actually happened a third time as well, but that third one isn’t being reported on for some reason1. Mass shootings. Carnage. Horror. It’s almost easy to read about now, isn’t it? It’s become so…normal. It’s so beyond heartbreaking that in some ways, I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around words to speak to it. Not to speak about it. Not to describe even what’s behind it. No, just to speak to the feeling that’s in the air.
I’m sitting in a Starbucks writing this2. As I sit here typing, I’m aware, it could happen here. It can happen anywhere. Heck, I had a colleague at the University of Washington who is much younger than me — I think she’ll be 31 this year. She once said to me, “I don’t think it’s a possibility that I’ll experience a mass shooting. I think it’s an inevitability.” Her words chill me. I think there is an unfortunate truth in them.
Something has to change. We all know this. But what? What is it that is going to change? Our laws? The makeup of our congress? Our president? We’ve been facing this for so long, and nothing has been done even though we’ve seen these very things shift. On some level, we have to be curious about what we haven’t looked at. What is it that’s not being talked about?
There are some very clear — and remarkably easy — things that can be done from a policy persepctive:
- Universal background checks
- Ban military style (and caliber) weapons
- Implement Red Flag laws that allow for people who are a danger to themselves and other to have their weapons confiscated.
And there are some very clear — yet challenging — things that can be done in the “civic arena”:
- Directly confronting3 and eliminating white supremacy. Here I’m not simply talking about the hateful speech of the minority of whites who actively hate BIPOC and call themselves alt-right or white nationalists, I’m talking about the very underlying philosophy and structural practices that our society is built upon. This is going to be hard work. It’s going to mean going through some really difficult conversations, and looking at what many of us (especially us white cis-gendered heterosexual men) are going to have to release4.
- Directly confronting and eliminating toxic masculinity. This, I think is very closely related to the previous point, but it’s still different. We have to get curious about what it can mean to be masculine in today’s world (and, relatedly, feminine in relationship to this). I suspect there is plenty to be said about gender fluidity and the way those who don’t identify as either fit in here. I confess to being on a learning curve here, and am super open to learning more from anyone who has something to share related to this. You can find how to connect with me here.
I suspect the the most impactful things that we can be doing — all of us — is to create more and better community. To, as john a. powell says, begin to build a bridging world, not a breaking world. To connect with our neighbors. To get to know each other. To learn what it means to re-connect and need each other. Charles Eisenstein writes about the ways that capitalism has robbed us of this essential human ingredient — our need of one another. Why should I know my neighbor? I can hire someone to come and feed my dog when I’m out. I can just call an Uber to take me to the airport. When I don’t know my neighbor, it’s easy to begin othering. And when othering can happen so close to home, imagine how easy it is to other from a distance.
We don’t really have to, actually. We can just look at the world and see how easy it is. And what that brings us. Horror. Carnage. Mass shootings.
It brings us what we are, for some reason, calling America.
Yes, this is different. This isn’t white supremacy in action in the same way the tragedies in Dayton, OH and El Paso, TX were. But in another way, it is.↩
By confronting, I don’t mean acting violently toward, or being aggressive. I mean not turning away from. This is going to mean a lot of listening. It’s going to mean a lot of being uncomfortable. And it’s going to mean having to find a way in. Without a way in, we will only push against each other.↩
Yes, there is a ton to write about here. It’s percolating.↩