It’s Not One Thing

Children are dead.

Shot by a bad man for reasons as-yet-unknown.

Some voices cry out, “We need more gun control.”

Others say, “No, no, it’s a mental health issue.”

A third voice claims that, “The media is at fault.”

Or that there’s a “culture of violence we need to solve.”

“It’s not this, it’s that.”

“It’s not that, it’s this.”

And we are paralyzed because nobody can find the one monster and cut off its head.

The problem is, as with most problems, a nuanced one. It isn’t a problem with one-color: it is a rainbow of fucking issues that blur and blob together into a muddy, bloody mass.

It’s not one monster. It’s many.

Guns are easier to get than good health care.

Mental health care is a black hole for those who try to get it.

The media shoves camera in the faces of kindergardeners to get a sound byte.

We adore violence in our media and abhor love and sex.

It’s all of these things. Not one to the exclusion of others.

That can’t paralyze us.

That confusion and complexity cannot give us pause.

Something has to be done.

One thing at a time. One bite out of the rotten apple, then another, and another until it’s gone. We can’t just nuke the problem. We can’t just drone strike it, or hit it with chemo and radiation, or plug in a cheat code and make it all go away. It’s a many-headed hydra. But we still have to start attacking the heads or the hydra will live on and people will still die because we couldn’t get on the same goddamn page. The time to talk — and act — is now. Not in six months when we’re back worrying about what the fucking Kardashians are up to.

The time is now! When we feel something.

When we have the fire in our bellies to write our politicians and make our voices heard. Not when our hearts are hardened but when we feel raw and in pain.

That’s why you can’t listen to people saying this isn’t the time. That’s shutting down the conversation. That’s putting up walls instead of opening doors. Not wanting to talk about it is okay. Wanting to step away from the discussion? Completely understandable. But anybody who tries to shut down other people continuing this conversation? That’s an obstruction. Calling it “politics” is false. Wanting to stop kids from dying, wanting to get busy navigating the complexities of our human experience is not “politicizing.” What someone means when they say, “Stop politicizing the issue” is, I don’t agree with you, so shut up. It’s not politics to ask that we figure this out. It’s not politics to seek solutions to suffering. This isn’t related to governance of the state. This isn’t related to political relations between people. This is about dead children, teenagers, and adults. This is about standing up and saying that we want something done, and that while we may not agree on what that something is, it’s time to move the needle one way or another because the worst thing we can do is sit on our hands in defiance of progress, in the paralysis of fruitless indecision.

P.S. — the one thing it’s not is the lack of God in our schools. If you believe in America, then God is in the schools when one wants him to be and not there when one doesn’t because that’s how freedom of religion is supposed to look. If you believe in God, then God is everywhere, and you don’t need prayer in schools to stave off a vengeance that involves killing children. And, by the way, if you believe in a God that not only allows for child murder but actively invokes it as payment for pulling prayer out of school, you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem and you should probably be put on a boat with the rest of your fucked-up brethren and set afloat so we can stop listening to your delusions of self-importance.