We are shopping for back to school supplies on Sunday, checking the school list and grabbing stuff like pencils, paper, and folders along with a throng of other folks. We look like a pack of busy bees. When my daughter could not find a zipper 3-ring binder for her son, she sends three of us to Office Depot. “Hurry, before it closes.” We drive over to find it already closed. She then texts, “Go check Walmart.” When we park at Walmart I notice a shift from a feeling of determination to one of a temporary dread, as a Walmart was just shot up the day before in El Paso. I freeze and then think - I have to look strong for my grandson and we can’t let fear stop us from living our life. So we zip in, find the zipper binder, pay and leave quickly.
These three mass shootings (it is so common now that the news just uses the term MS) in a row - in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton have left me rattled. The government might as well advertise: look for an MS coming to your town soon! Starring young white supremacists and boys with histories of violence. It came to mine. Gilroy is right next door to my hometown. I went to junior college in Gilroy, where the warm smell of garlic is carried on the gentle winds across rolling green hills. This MS shook my sense of safety and that cozy feeling of loving to drive down Main Street when I go “back home”. Why do we tolerate this? Because brandishing an assault rifle is your god-given right as an American and the NRA owns America. A border wall won’t keep them out because they are the infestation spreading from the inside, nourished by White House racist rhetoric. Domestic Terrorists. The White House shrugs and deflects. We have had 251 MS this year in the USA. Amnesty International just issued a US travel warning. It warns citizens of other countries to be careful traveling in the US due to “rampant gun violence.”
I know there is a tug of war between gun rights and gun control in this country. I know the Senate stomps on gun control offerings coming from the House of Representatives. With each MS incident the fear and horror turn to anger. Anger rises in the community and people put their shoulders to the wheel to try and push gun control laws through the bottleneck at the top. Then they grab a broom to sweep up the debris of broken hearts and broken glass and find a blood splattered baby onesie in the grass. I know that if we freeze and go numb it is our body protecting us from overwhelm. But that is dangerous, because if we go numb for too long and do not thaw out with tears, outrage and sweeping legislation, this country is doomed.
This news story gave my reeling heart a bit of help. An eleven year old Mexican boy holds a sign reading, #ElPasoChallenge. He shows it to shoppers at the Mall near the Walmart in El Paso, Texas. He said, “I want each person to do 22 good deeds.” Asked why he created this challenge, the boy said, “ To honor the 22 people who were killed here and to make the world a better place.” This act of kindness and resolve really helps me today. Thank you, young man for these school (of life) supplies.