Yesterday afternoon I had a meeting at our midtown offices and as I got out of the subway just a few blocks north of Times Square, it occurred to me that it was the first time I’d been in that heavily touristed zone since the Paris terror attacks two weeks ago. I don’t know why it popped into my head, but it did, and as I walked the rainy blocks from the subway to my office, I found myself thinking unusually deep thoughts about the city, the country, about safety. I’ve been asked a lot, especially after things like Charlie Hebdo, like the Batalclan, like the Boston Marathon, if I feel scared living in New York City, as surely we’re next in line for a horrific attack. My answer is always no. Mainly because if I’m going to die in a terror attack, I’ll die in a terror attack and that’ll suck, sure, but so would dying from cancer or MS or being crushed by a piano falling out the window of a tall building. But the other answer is to question why I should feel more afraid here in this big city than I might in any small town or suburb across the country where people are actually being violently murdered in schools, churches, office parks, movie theaters and other seemingly safe spaces - every. single. day.
THAT terrifies me.
And all the while I was walking and thinking, thinking and walking, fourteen innocent people (FOURTEEN!!!) were gunned down at a Christmas party at a facility for individuals with developmental disabilities. A place of refuge for some of the weakest among us. Fourteen. This is after three killed in Colorado just days before and nine in Oregon in October and nine in Charleston in June and on and on and on. And no one changed their Facebook profile picture to the San Bernardino County Seal or tweeted #prayersforsanbernardino. Why? Are we desensitized? Maybe. I know I’m not.
I AM scared. I’m terrified! I’m afraid when my mom goes to the mall in rural Pennsylvania. I’m afraid when I walk onto a college campus. I’m afraid to have kids, to bring up children in a world where they’ll have mandatory intruder drills in kindergarten, because we’ve decided as a society to treat the potential slaughter of innocent individuals as a terrifying but unstoppable inevitability, on par with fires and tornadoes.
What the actual fuck.
Are we just supposed to hid under our desks, hope the storm blows us over?
I don’t have any answers, obviously, if I did I’d be in Washington right now, fixing things. I’m not suggesting we take everyone’s guns away. I grew up in an area where huntin’ was such a major part of the culture that schools were always closed the Monday after Thanksgiving for the first day of deer season. I’ve had venison jerky. That stuff’s delicious. I understand and respect that for many people, responsible (!) gun ownership is a way of life. I get that. It just makes me so angry that out of, I don’t know, fear or stubbornness or something we can’t even get it together enough to consider the possibility of maybe looking into finding a solution. There has to be an answer - there has to - and we need to look for it. If we can spend eleventytrazillion dollars defending ourselves against the threat of international terror, we can at least drop a buck or two to try to protect ourselves from the monsters prowling around right here at home.
We have to.
I don’t know what my point is in writing this, I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir for most of you and I don't really think our country's leaders are looking to infrequently updated humor blogs for political suggestions (but if they are, hey dudes!)...I just couldn’t sleep last night for laying awake worrying on this and it felt like something I needed to talk about. I just went online to try to find a link to share for people to write their legislator on gun violence and first hit that came up on Google was from December 2012. THREE YEARS have passed and we’re still banging the same drum and now I’m feeling even more frustrated than I was before.
Here are a few resources, if you’re interested: https://www.change.org/p/congress-stop-blocking-gun-violence-research?source_location=trending_petitions_home_page&algorithm=curated_trending
How are you feeling about all of this? Does it scare you too? Make you angry? I can’t be alone!
Thanks for reading, if you did. I know this isn’t really my usual territory. I promise I’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming of food spills and poop stories soon but, well, for now I’m just not feeling very funny.
BUT! I don't want to end this all gloom and doom. I know it feels like dark days lately but I really really do still believe there's a lot of good out there. Let's find it together.