The shootings in Buffalo and Texas have wrecked me – and I can’t keep watching the same old arguments fly by in screenshotted tweets in Instagram stories.
It’s all so predictable and isn’t going to change anything. And that makes this grief feel worse.
This thought keeps pinging around in my head and it won’t go away. It’s not fully formed yet. But it’s something like this…
America was built on fear – fear that Europe would come and take it from us; as slavery was ending, that all of these people we’d imported and enslaved would rise up and do us in, and then fear of immigrants and the “others”.
So, we built the biggest military in the world. We have the most overly funded police forces in the world. We made rules about who could vote and who could come here, who could marry who, and where they could go.
We wrapped our fear in laws and religion and called it culture.
We have more guns than people and the mere presence of those guns (the facts are irrefutable, but I know that won’t stop you) is why so many thousands of people die by them every year. Just having a gun in your house, yes, even you “responsible” gun owners, makes you many many times more likely to die by gunshot.
Guns take bad moments and turn them into tragedy. Having access to a gun means that at your lowest moments you might not just drink yourself into a stupor or harm yourself, you could kill everyone you love – in a moment.
We take our fear, wrap it in the flag or camo, and call it patriotism. We arm it to the teeth so we never ever have to confront what it’s guarding: our own inability to face our collective fears.
Until we admit that fear drives our actions – that it drives all of our passion and drive around gun culture, it will not change.
The opposite of fear is love. We need to love ourselves, our children and our communities more than we fear them.
Give up the fear, and we’ll give up the guns.