When Thoughts and Prayers are not Enough

Trying to make sense of something senseless is wearing. The events of the last two weeks have left me exhausted, angry and sad. I’ve been trying not to write about world events but I can’t stay silent anymore. We live in a new normal. I naively thought I wouldn’t see the recurrence of so much hate and division in this country in my lifetime. I thought in this country, somehow things were different. I was wrong. Yes, we’ve had issues, but this is becoming too much for everyone and there’s a collective exhaustion. I’ve been finding myself day-dreaming of living in Denmark, Canada or anywhere else. I even went on Google Earth the other day and wandered down streets in Adelaide, Australia. The palm trees were attractive and there is a Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs I’ve wanted to visit. I would take my cats and my husband, try to convince my daughter and her fiancé to come and just sell everything. But I know this is silly.

I also know the grass is always greener and I love this country, but the violence and hate is beginning to seep into my daily activities, thoughts and dreams, like a slow poison.  

Several years ago when I was in Copenhagen I noticed there were thousands of bicycles parked along the streets. People who live there love to ride bikes and if you’re not careful and happen to walk into the bike lane by accident, you might be hit by a speeding bicycle! Happily though, people for the most part respect others. Those thousands of bicycles that I saw parked were surprisingly all unlocked. In fact I did not see ONE single bicycle with a lock on it. How can this be? This says a lot about the collective culture. When I was 17, my beloved bicycle was stolen in a lovely park in Great Neck, NY where I grew up. It was a quiet and safe town. I had left the bike for a few minutes and sadly, when I returned, it was gone. I have always locked everything since then..my car, my house, my office, my locker at the gym, and over the years, even my heart. 

The violence that occurred recently is the end result of those in power simply not doing their jobs. In the meantime, innocent people are being killed. The government can’t even reconvene from their vacation to take care of business. This is outrageous. We do not need assault rifles, which are weapons of mass destruction, in the hands of anyone. The rest of the civilized world understands this, countries like in Canada, Denmark and others. There are now travel bans to the U.S. If those in power who are doing nothing to try and stop these mass shootings had one of THEIR children or parents or brothers or sisters or friends killed, they might finally take strong action. 

When we need to think twice about shopping, or going to a concert, a movie or food festival, the time has come for action. I wonder, how many of you have thought twice in the past weeks of not going about your normal activities. Yes, the percentages of being a victim are low in reality, but it’s the tenor of everyday life that has changed. I am desperately trying to keep my upbeat outlook, but frankly it’s been difficult. I’m trying to engage in things that keep me focused and in the moment like enjoying my newly adopted kitties, or working on a drawing. These remind me that there are endless wonderful things to love and enjoy, still. I don’t want to stick my head in the sand and not read or watch any news. I also want to help, but quite frankly am not sure what to do.

Last night I heard about a couple who lost their daughter in the Aurora shooting. They decided to quit their jobs to travel the country and help other survivors. This is amazing and they are doing something so valuable. But we need to stop the violence and intolerance in the first place. I know it’s impossible to totally eradicate. But we can at least try. Living is a right not a privilege.