Last night, at our family Chanukah gathering, my cousin and I got into a conversation about the shooting in Newtown. His premise was that we were being egocentric about this being a tragedy in comparison to what happens the world over — and especially in comparison to the children who die each day from our drone warfare.
I accept all he says as true. If the United States is killing children, then those who order those attacks are war criminals. But, just because it happens the world over, doesn’t mean that we should just sit back, throw our hands up and look away.
I cannot change Afghanistan or Congo or Somalia or . . . fill in the blank. But I can stop my neighbor or my fellow American from spewing NRA-sponsored platitudes.
It must start somewhere.
I asked my cousin, “what am I, as a parent, to do? Just put this in a larger geo-political context and just accept that human life is cheap?” “My job,” I told him, “is to protect my child. And I am not sure that I can do that when mentally ill people have access to guns.” “Well,” he said, “you can tell your children that you will try to keep them safe but you can’t promise.”
OK OK OK OK OK OK.
My child deserves my unconditional promise that I will keep him safe. Every child, the world over, deserves his or her parent’s unconditional promise.
Now, the work begins:
What do I need to do to make that unconditional promise to my child?
Stand up to the conventional wisdom. People with guns kill more people than people without guns. And, as a society, allowing a mentally ill person to buy (or have access to) a gun is the same as everyone of us driving the shooter to the school and giving him extra ammunition. We all need to point the finger in the mirror.
Yeah, we need to solve the fiscal cliff and avoid upsetting the Republicans. Yes, we need to tiptoe around the NRA with its $250,000,000 lobbyist fund. Yes, we need to wait for someone to do something.
I have a promise to keep. And, I better get busy.
Marching, donating, talking to people and pressuring our political leaders.
And be ready to throw myself in the way of a bullet spray should it come to that.