I have been wanting to, and feeling afraid to, write this post. I wasn’t going to write it today; I was going to write about being sick and how I have been sick the past few days and how I just don’t do sick very well, but then I read something this morning and I think it is time for me to write the post I have been so afraid to write.
Since the school shooting in Florida, I have read a number of posts, some about the shooting specifically, some about guns, some about the fear that comes out of living in a gun culture, some about the violence and atrocities around the world that we know so little about or turn away from because it hurts too much. They have all had a huge impact on me, in different ways and from different directions. Please read them. I think they are vital and important. I think what they tell us and teach us is crucial. “Guns” from Tom Being Tom, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” from Bojana’s Coffee and Confessions to Go, “An Unburdened Childhood” from A Light Circle, “Scariest Thing that has ever Happened….Terror at the Movies from Visions and Giggles, and the post I read this morning, “We are so Clueless” from Brandewijn Words.
The reason I have been afraid to write this post is because it is something I never write about. Perhaps I have felt like my opinion doesn’t count or that my words won’t make a difference. Maybe I thought, Who the fuck am I to put my two cents in? or What is there to say when it all seems so obvious? Maybe I was afraid of upsetting people. But, in reading the posts above, I realized that it is time for me to add my voice to the mix; not because I have something particularly wise or profound or even reasonable to say, but because the more voices that join the conversation, the louder the message will be. Perhaps if those of us who hide in the shadows, who stand in the rubble of our heartbreak but stay silent and afraid, if we step up and add our voices, we will help create something bigger, something that will make a difference.
I tried to think of a way to write this post without talking about my personal feelings about guns. But, I don’t think I can. It isn’t me. If you are at all familiar with my blog or my poetry, then you know I write about feelings, it is just what I do, it is how I am made. I suppose this is a pre-cursor, or a warning even; my feelings about guns are absolute and probably irrational, but if I am adding my voice to the mix, it has to be my true voice. That said, this isn’t just going to be about my personal feelings about guns; I am just going to start there to get it out of the way. Does it seem as if I am procrastinating getting to the point? Getting to the post? I probably am.
I have been in the actual physical presence of a gun (as far as I know) only one time; it was one time too many. It wasn’t a violent situation, but it did scare the crap out of me. I was getting tattooed in New Hampshire, where it is legal to carry a concealed weapon, and about a minute into the tattoo, I noticed a bulge under the artists leather vest. When I realized it was a gun, I must have gotten a weird look on my face, because he proceeded to tell me that a lot of questionable people came into his shop and he needed to be able to protect himself and his clients. I went along with it, said I totally understood; he was trying to put me at ease, after all. He finished the tattoo pretty quickly and charged me an insanely low price. He was a nice guy, but I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Being that close to a gun made me feel terrified and dirty.
I don’t like guns. It seems to me that they were created for the sole purpose of taking life. Guns were made to kill. I don’t see any value or purpose in something that was made to bring about death. In my perfect world, there would be no guns. I did say my feelings about this veered toward the irrational. I know that a lot of you reading this will disagree with these declarations, and I get it, I truly do, but I had to tell my truth.
I never imagined that I would be living in a gun culture, or maybe I always have and couldn’t admit it to myself. I have tried to turn away from the gun violence and the hatred, to keep it out of my life, to shield my heart from it. I thought that if I declared things like, not my president, not my county, not my culture……I would be separate from what was happening. I was wrong. No matter my feelings about being an american, I am one, and I live in america. I have a responsibility to add my voice to a conversation that could potentially save lives. It doesn’t matter if people don’t like what I say. It isn’t about me. It is about the fact that guns are killing people, guns are killing children, and it has to stop.
The conversation about guns has to happen and keep happening until there is change, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us. Some may ask what kind of change I propose; the truth is, I have no idea. I am just joining this conversation. I am just beginning to see that feeling the heartbreak is not enough. The heartbreak, the fear, the vulgarity and horror if it all, has to be given a voice, so it can’t be pushed aside until the next time gun violence tears people s live apart.
I won’t lie. I want to hide. I want to hide because it hurts too much, because there is no part of me that can see the kind of violence and hatred that exists, and not break into pieces. I want to run away from this reality because I think, it can’t possibly be real. People have to be smarter than this, kinder than this, better than this. And you know what, I think they are. I think they have just been afraid to add their voices to the mix. I know I have. But, today, I choose to exercise my voice, because it is the right thing to do, the only thing to do.