Take a Hike – Acts of Resistance in a So-Called “Increasingly Violent” World

There is still peace in the world, but it's not on your iphone.


Is it possible to mourn a tragedy, fight for gun control and mental health access, and manage our own fears and terror without concluding the world is a dangerous place and passing that fear on to our kids?  Yes.  And as parents, we have no choice.  We have to find that balance.  Otherwise, we are the ones creating that terrible, dangerous world.  Our kids are looking to us to understand what is dangerous and what isn’t, and to teach them to determine when to take risks and when to be cautious.  If we teach them that the world is full of evil people seeking to harm them, we are not only giving them false information, we are robbing them of a full life.

A horrific, unfathomable tragedy occurred in Newtown, Connecticut this month.  For me, when those children go through my mind, they all have the faces of my precious twins.   My maternal instinct tells me to lock the doors, close the shades, batten down the hatches, and teach my children to be afraid.  That is the world we live in, right?  Don’t talk to strangers, stay inside, don’t touch that, you can’t go in there, you never know, use hand sanitizer, abstinence only, better safe than sorry.

I can’t say how frequently I hear parents musing longingly about how they used to play outside all day from morning until night, left to their own devices to manage relationships with other kids, explore, solve problems, and make their own fun without parental supervision.  When I hear these things I’m always puzzled.  If these parents know how good this was for them, why don’t they let their children do the same?  But before I can even respond, I hear the inevitable, “But this is a different world… you just can’t do that anymore.”   Where did we get this idea, and who is benefitting from it?  Certainly not our kids.

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A Newtown Every Three Days – Race, Class and Gun Violence

Close your eyes.  Picture Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.  We all have an image in our minds of innocent, white children in a quiet, middle class suburb being suddenly, and horrifically exposed to gun violence.  Now close your eyes again.  Picture the same scene, but this time the children are black.  What do you imagine our national reaction would be to this tragedy?

Now close your eyes again and picture 20 black children who have been exposed to gun violence all their lives being killed one by one in the cross-fire of all-too-familiar neighborhood violence in an inner-city setting over the course of three days.  What do you imagine our national reaction would be?  Wait.  We know what our national reaction would be, because this scene, like the first scene in Newtown, has actually happened.  It is happening right now, to approximately one child or teen EVERY THREE HOURS.  That means a Newtown EVERY 3 DAYS in America!

So what is our national reaction?  Our national reaction is nothing.  No media frenzy, no demands for better security, for arming principals, no calls for tighter gun control, no focus on mental health access, no conclusions that the world is a dangerous and cruel place, no tears from our half-black president, no frenzy of blogs, no discussions on listservs, no terrified white parents trembling as they drop their children off at school, no mental health professionals scurrying to assist grieving parents in explaining these events, no discussion of post-traumatic stress.

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The “Marriage will fix it!” Presidential Platform

Dear Mr. Romney,

I am concerned that despite being a presidential candidate, you seem a bit perplexed by our world.  When you suggested a causal link between folks shooting each other up with automatic weapons and… single parents, I became highly disruptive to the small gathering of progressive viewers I was hosting at my home (not that that’s your fault, of course).  My high pitches shrieks of “NO, no, oh HELL no, whhaaat?” brought me back to a time when Dan Quayle tried to blame societal ills on sitcom character Murphy Brown.  In addition to single moms, you Republicans also seem to put quite a lot of blame on teachers for everything from the recession to colon polyps.  Remarkably, It always seems to be some almost entirely female group that is to blame for societal ills.  Why do Republicans do this?

“We need moms and dads helping raise kids. Wherever possible, the — the benefit of having two parents in the home — and that’s not always possible. A lot of great single moms, single dads. But gosh, to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone — that’s a great idea because if there’s a two-parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically. The opportunities that the child will — will be able to achieve increase dramatically. So we can make changes in the way our culture works to help bring people away from violence and give them opportunity and bring them in the American system.”

It seems to me the last few horrific gun crime incidents were perpetrated by highly educated males.  The Aurora shooter had a PhD.  Another recent shooter was a psychiatrist.  Just heard today the Aurora and Giffords shooters both came from two-parents households.  Oops.  Not hanging together so far, Mitt.  I’m thinking if we want people to stop using mass murder weapons we have to stop people from getting them – smart people, uneducated people, people with single and married parents, almost entirely male people.  I don’t think blaming female people is going to get us anywhere.

But okay, the other points you make about marriage are valid, sort of.  Married folks do enjoy a higher quality of life, do better financially, are healthier, better educated, (oh, and have more sex, but you wouldn’t care about that, now would you Mr. Governor, sir?).

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Women, It’s Time for Us to Take Away Men’s Guns

Although details about the identities of the Aurora shooting victims are slow to emerge, it is safe to say a male perpetrated unspeakable violence against a number of women, as well as other men.  Sadly, male violence toward either sex is not an unusual occurrence.  When it comes to guns, women are astronomically more likely to be on the receiving end of a bullet than the one pulling the trigger.   While men are both more likely to murder, and to be murdered, women’s likelihood of being killed is way out of proportion with our likelihood of killing.

From 1976 to 2005, women were 23.5% of all homicide victims and 11.2% of perpetrators.    In short, women are significantly more likely to be murdered than to murder, and that’s not to mention the suffering women experience as a result of male on male violence.  No doubt losing a son to gun violence, incarceration or a death sentence for murder can feel like death to a mother.  Why are we putting up with this?

Let’s take a closer look at Aurora for a moment.  I’ve heard a lot of male voices over the past few days stating that if only one or more of the civilians had been armed, this tragedy could have been prevented or curtailed.   One acquaintance argued he’s been training to use his firearm for 30 years and he would have, “taken that asshole down before he killed anyone.”   These voices may be chivalrous, heroic, hot-headed, macho, coming out of fear, denial, posturing, etc.  But there is one thing they are not.  They are not based in fact.  You don’t have to be special ops or have weapons training to know that.

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