How many more will it take?

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(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) via https://abc7news.com/politics/gunsafe-student-signs-and-slogans-from-school-walkouts/3215255/ 

I live in the heart of Denver, Colorado. For a long time, Denver was an average mid-sized city in the western United States. During the past decade, however, it has grown exponentially into a respected larger city, desirable to startups, tech firms, the marijuana industry, restaurateurs and hotel corporations, as well as real estate developers. As with many American cities during the past few decades, money and development have changed this city almost beyond recognition.

The greater Denver area is also famous for a more somber reason, as it was the site of one of the earliest school shooting tragedies in America, the Columbine School massacre in 1999. Columbine High School is located in a suburb south of Denver called Highlands Ranch, a middle-class, mostly white, average American suburb. The anniversary of that tragedy was April 20th. Police shut down the entire Denver metro area schools that day, due to a threat by a young woman from out of state who travelled to our area, bought a gun, and ended up killing herself in the mountains near Denver.

Today (May 7, 2019), two young men entered the STEM school in Highlands Ranch and opened fire on students in the upper grades. When the police were called, they arrived in a couple of minutes, found and arrested the shooters. But it was already too late—eight students were shot and wounded, and one has since died.

During the past twenty years since the first school shooting in Highlands Ranch, there have been so many shootings by insane people inside public schools in America that most of us have lost count. Doing a quick Google search revealed that in the twenty years since Columbine, there have been 230 school shootings in this country, not including shootings at colleges or universities. https://www.necn.com/news/national-international/School-Shootings-Since-Columbine-508503771.html

According to the Washington Post, “at least 143 children, educators and other people have been killed in assaults, and another 302 have been injured.”  They also reported the total number of children exposed to gun violence in schools stands at “more than 228,000 children at 234 schools.” They noted that the United States government does NOT track gun violence in schools, therefore they decided to investigate the statistics for the public. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/local/school-shootings-database

These numbers and every story that the numbers represent, are horrifying. As the statistics show, The United States, due to an obscene corruption of the Second Amendment, has become one of the most violent and dangerous places in the industrialized West for people, including school children, to live. According to Google, “The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Such language has created considerable debate regarding the Amendment’s intended scope.” https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/second_amendment. Surely, were the Founding Fathers of the US Constitution here today they would be completely outraged at how misconstrued their amendment has been, toward the rapacious greed of global arms dealers.

It is only Tuesday, and yet within the last 48 hours we have been given dire news of the state of nature on Earth, and now just one more report of school students being shot at during their classes. Last week we read of other students who were tragically shot, with two killed, at the University of North Carolina-Charleston as they sat in a classroom with their professor. Bad news upon more bad news, and it’s all related. Private corporations continue to bully and buy off whomever might stand in their way from reaping profits from the loss of life on our planet—whether human, animal, plant or mineral, it amounts to rape and pillage for the benefit of a very few, at the expense of everyone and everything else.

Tens of thousands have been asking for the past decades: when will this insanity end? When will our government enact gun control laws that are strong, meaningful and will finally end this sacrificing of innocents enabled by the National Rifle Association’s heartless lobbyists, with the help of the most senior officials in Washington DC? The big picture is so insidious and dark that it takes the courage of the strongest warriors we can imagine, just to face it without breaking down. The battle for the Light rages on, more strongly than ever.

Dear Readers, I am well aware that the subjects of my current blog posts are dark, scary and super depressing, and I am truly sorry for it. I am not a person who likes or wants to dwell on all that is wrong with the world, but it feels extraordinarily important to keep bringing light and attention to these events, because they simply will not change unless we do. As an aside, I know a man in the college where I currently work, who is the nicest person you’d ever want to meet—friendly, kind, always smiling and gentle. Yet each time I have brought up anything remotely serious regarding the current news cycle, he laughs dryly, and tells me that he just can’t think about “all that bad news.” As nice as he is, he is cowardly when it comes to facing what is actually happening to us and because of us in the world. There are so many people like him—kind, well-meaning, friendly, harmless—yet they are in denial or simply unwilling to look squarely at the situation we humans have created, or work to find solutions.

There are plenty of bloggers and writers on the internet who are only too willing to report the Upside, put a positive spin on whatever narrative they are selling, and yes, most of it is a sales pitch. But that’s a topic for another blog post. Tonight, I simply send my love and empathy to the students and their families who were hurt today (and condolences to the family of the one who was killed) at the STEM school in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. May they find the comfort and healing they need in the days and months to come.

 

 

Thirty Days to Go

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Is it possible to restore true democracy in the United States?

In thirty days, voters will decide who will sit in offices of power in every state of the United States. It’s another nail-biter moment for the millions of us who are beyond disgusted, beyond overwhelmed and beyond nauseated at the havoc playing out on a daily basis by the people in Washington D.C.

Many of us knew we were in for a hell of a ride after the dust settled in November of 2016. The Women’s Marches around the country ushered in the spirit of resistance and pushback against the Trump administration in January of 2017, and the collective call for justice and progressive change has only become more insistent with each passing month. Now the midterms are upon us, with the Blasey-Ford/Kavanaugh hearings fresh in our ears. The noise and brouhaha are deafening, as senators, representatives, justices, politicos, activists, and changemakers continue yelling at each other and at us. Everyone seems to be shouting, THINGS MUST CHANGE!!! But it’s anyone’s guess as to what exactly will change by November 7th.

Every single day now, I receive a long list of emails from many different political organizations, with variations on the same theme. The messages range from “aren’t you furious?” to a somewhat more realistic, even tone.  I get it—we are past the point of nicely asking the current power-elites for anything, anymore. I feel a lot of emotions about the current scene, but curiously furious isn’t on my list. Maybe Naomi Klein’s shock doctrine theory has taken hold, and I’m simply exhausted from the constant onslaught of bad news coming out of Washington. More than anything, I have sorrow and remorse for the current state of humanity’s lowest ebb. There are a lot of feelings just under the surface of my soul, awaiting any slight opportunity to make themselves known—any crack in a conversation to open it to what’s happening in our world is seized by me now.

Meanwhile, others around me also appear weary of the struggle. It’s been a marathon two years, filled with one disappointing battle after the next. I’m certain the constant attacks on everything good, true and beautiful in the world are highly scripted and calculated by certain shadow actors in an attempt to make us all shut up and sit down, as they continue to destroy what’s left of our world bit by horrific bit.

But we have news for them: It’s not working. In fact, it’s doing the opposite—as the damage being done to people, society and our beautiful, long-suffering earth continues, more and more of us are standing up and shouting out. More people of color are running for political office across America than ever before. More women. More young people. The Millennials are up and active, shouting and stomping and rapping for change. It’s a tug-of-war, and both sides are giving it all they’ve got. If ever there was a time to get up and loud about what you see happening in the United States today, now would be it.

This election is one that NO ONE can afford to sit out. Political slogans aside, it is truly a time of massive change, that can only happen if enough everyday folks like you and me take action. Make calls. Give donations. March and protest. Get loud, loud and strong enough so the elected officials in Washington and in every capital house in every state cannot ignore the sound of Americans demanding change. Make sure you understand every single ballot measure, and have educated yourself on where the candidates stand on the issues. Don’t only think of yourself when you tick the boxes. What will the measure mean for your neighbors, your community, and your state? Will the candidate work to protect nature and resources, or plan to exploit them even further? Take the time to do research and find out who is backing them: oil and gas corporate interests? The Koch Brothers? Or have they taken the pledge to NOT take dark money in order to win their race?

We are still The People, and we are still here, hurting. We still have power, regardless of outer appearances. It is time to take our collective power back into our hands. With thirty days to go, there’s a lot to do, and not a moment to lose.