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Gone Mad

October 1, 2015

I’m just beyond. Beyond words, beyond ideas, beyond hope.

So, yeah, another mass shooting today, this one at a community college in Umpqua, Oregon. Something like the 45th mass shooting at a school this year. I guess it was another lost and unstable young kid. I don’t really know, or care to know, the details.

It’s not like I think there is really ever going to be an end to gun violence in this country. That horse has already left the barn. We are a country that a long time ago decided it was important to allow its citizens to defend themselves against a government that might overreach or abuse its power.  After 250 years, more or less, maybe that’s not such a threat? Maybe the circumstances have changed somewhat since our founding days? Except now, every second person has a gun (I don’t really know the statistic) and there’s pretty much nothing to be done about that. To take them away is … well, I don’t know, but the guys with the guns don’t like that idea.

The NRA is no less powerful than the billionaires and corporations who own our government. To get elected these days, you need obscene amounts of money, gladly provided by the NRA (and corporations). All you have to do is vote in the laws that benefit them. You win, they win. Win win. Yay! Everybody wins. Except society. The people who the politicians were supposed to represent… they don’t win.

Laws will never be changed because the NRA does not want them to change. They are in charge. And they’ve been successful in whipping people into a froth over the potential loss of their guns (o-BA-ma’s coming for your guns!), controlling the conversation at every turn with distraction tactics (“this is not the time to be talking about gun control”). They are GREAT on message. And they work well with a media empire that influences just enough of a voting base to keep them in power. We won’t mention names.

I don’t even want to talk about it. Disgusts me.

We’ve become a stunningly amoral country, completely without ethics, intelligence, integrity and common sense. You’ll NEVER convince me otherwise. I would chose to live elsewhere if it were a viable option. It’s not really. I’m born here, I have deep roots, friends, family, a life. I love so much about our place on the planet. There is much to love about northern California. But if I had it do to all over again, with some knowledge back then of where things were heading, I’d have moved. I’d be perfectly happy in Norway or Sweden, Maybe Canada. I’m sure there are other places. If I were to stay in the states, maybe Vermont.

The idea that we are the greatest nation on earth is laughable. It hurts my heart. I really can’t even type those words–the idea is so utterly ludicrous.  A great country is compassionate. It takes care of its people–all of them. It educates them, respects them, makes sure their needs are met. Like a good parent does his/her children. It accepts who they are and treats them with dignity. ALL OF THEM. There is so much ignorance, so much intolerance, so much hate here. It’s breathtaking. There are so many people in other people’s business, so many people who’ve decided what is best for everyone and who, exactly, should remain in charge.

In regards to who’s in charge–who holds the power–it’s a small percentage. And they are making sure it stays that way. There is a devastating statistic in Elizabeth Warren’s recent talk on economic injustice (and racial injustice) about who holds the power and how the gap between people with money and people without has grown obscenely since 1980 (the utter fallacy and hoax of the trickle down theory).

Our country is politically corrupt. A small sample: Citizens United (in what universe is that even remotely defensible?). Repealing the Voting Rights Act (bald faced racism). Not taxing the rich. Defunding Planned Parenthood (blatantly anti abortion). Shutting down the government (you stupid, petulant children). The NRA. Building a wall at the border (stoke fear much?). The Keystone Pipeline. Fighting healthcare. Racial injustice. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? All of this is sickening.

And, of course, gun laws (the absence of).

Our country has allowed itself to be taken over by people, corporations, industries, with self-enhancing economic interests. Duh. How is it so many just follow along, at their own peril, voting again and again against their own interests?

Back to guns. Right. How about this: There is NOTHING, not one bloody thing, that makes sense about people owning assault weapons. What about open carry. OPEN CARRY! What the hell is THAT about? We can’t get simple background checks?! They work. We can’t take even the smallest, most common sense steps because the NRA doesn’t want us moving down the slippery slope of gun control? And we’re beholden to the NRA…… why?  Oh right. They fund election campaigns. We don’t need them; the politicians do.

The mere fact that we cannot seem to do ANYTHING in response to the shooting of children because the NRA has a stranglehold on our politicians nauseates me. And every sane person I know. There is a majority of people appalled by the lack of action on gun violence and gun safety. But not the right people, not the ones benefitting from the NRA’s support.

I keep wanting to write about this, but never do because I don’t have the words. Other people — our forefathers who warned us, Einstein who spoke eloquently, poets, historians, philosophers, the Pope, actors even — have the words. I just have frustration and anger and utter hopelessness.  I don’t have ready facts. I just have profound sadness.

I feel so let down by our leaders. I feel so defeated. How is it that intelligence and compassion, wisdom and common sense are not guiding us to make the changes we need?

We are so far from living in a safe society. We will not see it in my lifetime. We will continue to live in fear that our children will go off to college and get shot. Or we’ll be in a theater and will get shot. How crazy is that? I know this will not change. Guns are sacred in the US. Pathetic and true. As much a part of our fabric as, I don’t know, 4th of July parades or something. They are not going away. Do. Not. Understand. It.

And let’s say we do make strides, even teeny tiny ones. You know what happens next? Lunatics work harder. They shoot more people just to prove it wasn’t the gun laws that kept us safe.

(That’s cynical, I realize.)

But it would help if we could take some steps, because steps are important. Taking a step, enacting something is a symbol. It says we recognize we have a problem and gives people some comfort that help is on the way. You know, like a background check. OF COURSE that will not stop all the nut cases. Some will still kill children, but it’s a step, a gesture, an act of goodwill, and it could stop a few people. Or at least slow them down. It’s not doing nothing.

Like Mr. Obama said today, it’s not enough to offer our thoughts and prayers. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.” Again. Again. Again. I agree. It’s an insult to us all to fall into the well-worn, mind-numbing routine of our national response to senseless violence and senseless murders at the hands of nuts with guns. And then do absolutely nothing. Again.

The real criminals here are the cowardly politicians who deliver the NRA’s message, not the guys who do the shooting. The shooting guys? They are lost souls, mis-guided kids. Evil sure. But in so many cases, they are abandoned, lost, angry kids. They need serious help. They’re criminals, too, responsible for their actions. But they are sick and the product of some nasty childhoods, negligent parents. Maybe a twisted, chemically deficient neuron path. Who knows.

But, the politicians are just plain corrupt. They want their power and know the NRA will help them get and keep it. That simple. That twisted.

I can’t really figure out the people who elect them. But it’s why I have so little faith in the future of our country. I have no doubt money and greed, and/or sheer lack of intelligence is at the root of it. But even so, I just can’t fathom how it continues to even exist. I thought we were smarter.

I really do think we are smarter, until I realize I live in a bubble. I live in California. A coastal state. I live in the northern part, a bit more progressive. I live in a college town. We are largely educated. That is the bubble. Where there is education, there is a bubble. That is not the reality elsewhere, and I just forget that.

Yesterday, I’m at a gas station. I’m inside buying something to eat for the road. Hard to do in a freeway-adjacent gas station convenience store. I bought a pack of almonds (very stale) and a banana (surprisingly good). While in there, three twenty something guys, seemingly not from around here, were loudly, obnoxiously ragging on the female clerk who said they’d have to pay ten cents for a bag [for their junk food]. They were ridiculing Davis for its plastic bag ordinance, OBVIOUSLY NOT UNDERSTANDING the environmental justification for it. It didn’t satisfy them–the idea that the planet and oceans are dying for the mountains of plastic we are unable to manage. They must not have seen the video, read the article or heard the news story. But no kidding, they were SO unhinged about this plastic bag thing, I hung behind an aisle with my phone ready, just keeping an eye on the counter where they stood, afraid they might get violent. I was actually a little scared by their behavior. At 2:30 on a Tuesday afternoon.

Which… god… the whole 60-second experience says something sad about not only the painful fact of their ignorance, and their lack of good manners as they badgered and bullied a female gas station clerk, but also about the fear that is just mildly present at all times… the fear of having to be anywhere near three testosterone-fueled yahoos pissed off about something stupid, and the fear they might be packin’ because we live in a country where it’s somehow okay to walk around with guns in your pocket, or worse, hanging, threateningly, over your shoulder.

And remind me again why we all need to carry guns? To protect ourselves from the guys carrying guns? Oh right.

It is so mind-numbingly stupid I can barely breathe.

A whole bunch of us think it’s stupid and can’t seem to do anything about it.

Except cry out of sheer frustration, and embarrassment for our country. Which I did today. Again. Nobody anywhere else in the civilized world understands what’s going on here. Don’t believe that? Travel. Talk to anybody from another modern country. Try explaining what we are doing here. It’s absolutely un-defensible.

I was going to go to bed early, and here… I got mad instead. Here’s the picture I was going to post, with something nice about the baseball game in Rocklin this evening….

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