Another day, another school shooting. I can hardly stand it. It is unconscionable that nothing changes the meter on American fear and violence. There is not even an attempt to make a difference about guns of any kind on the part of those who could speak truth and not just some blind adherence to their own power. Money and power. Thus it has always been. “The poor will always be with us.” Therefore the wealthy and powerful will always defend their positions to make sure nothing changes.
From my perspective, the illusion of control is pervasive and based on a deeper truth. That truth is that as long as we are identified with our little separate selves we are desperate to fill the void with whatever we can grab and hold on to. The gap between what religion calls God and those struggling small selves grows ever wider. So does the gap between rich and poor, educated and uneducated, and the self-identified Us and Them. The more limited we become in our identities, the more race, skin color, religion or simply any degree of otherness, becomes the target of raging discontent. Helpless to avert the acute pain of being human, we need to vent our blame and hostility out there- anywhere outside of ourselves to take away the burden of the unbearable. The real unbearable pain is the loss of our inter-connectedness in the heart (of the God of your choice). Once disconnected enough, we lose the capacity to distinguish our common humanity.
I weep a little, I pray for the passage of all the souls torn from their bodies, for all who are bereft as a result of this tragedy today. And I am angry and frustrated and hope to find ways as a citizen to use my voice effectively. I look to find my own hurt and retaliatory violence since that is the only thing I can attend to today. I try to see my own ignorant rages, fears, and hatreds before I hurl these shooters out of my heart.
I wrote the following poem over twenty years ago. I replaced ‘newspaper’ with ‘computer screen.’
This computer screen separates us.
You never placed the gun in my hand
But I have killed a thousand nameless faces.
I never saw you on the battlefield
but I am at war.
Silently, I grind the faces of my enemies
beneath my boot heels every day.
I have drunk the victim’s bitter gall with you.
One day we shall be justified
in a terrible revenge.
This morning I sit at my warm kitchen table.
reading about you.
If news itself connected us to one another
we could begin to hold forgiveness in our hearts
instead of these guns in our hands.
This next poem speaks to how I treat ideas from someone I love when I don’t agree with them.
NRA Membership 2/7/00
Unbridled enthusiasm runs amok in the fields.
Your thoughts are clay pigeons
And I want to shoot them down
Before they sprout wings and fly away.
Pessimism takes so much energy, you said.
But I believe I spend less on disappointment, I replied.
I’d rather resign my membership in the NRA
And stand there
With my hands in my pockets
Not invested in the outcome.