Sunday, December 16, 2012

Be the Change We Most Need

Cry Down Into a Big River (M.A. Reilly)
I. Be Still.

Whereas babies are the very image of innocence--5, 6, and 7 years olds are its voice. And that voice was quieted on Friday.

In the remaining silence I find myself wanting to fill it quickly so as to not have to feel what I can not find words to describe and yet thankfully, there is little escape. We need to feel, first.  Perhaps you too are finding that one minute you are cruising through your life and the next you are stopped and in tears.  It feels very much like the immediate aftermath of 9/11 when it was still too soon to understand that life had shifted, changed in fundamental ways.  Now too, I am called from sleep this time by the list of names of these unknown children that I somehow know as they have become for those of us at a distance--every child.

And like 9/11, there are the stories of heroics--this time teachers, a principal, and a school psychologist--all women who did what those of us who teach know is an inescapable act: they sought first to protect the children.

Circa, 1967 (M.A. Reilly)
The deaths of the children and educators in Newtown remind me that too many children, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers in and beyond Newtown are dying through a proliferation of guns and an absence of sound mental heath protection and care.  Collectively we have the voice to stop such madness and we must.

Circa, 1967 is an image I made while out one afternoon with my son, turning my camera and finding him just after he had made a wish. It is these small moments that the families in Newtown and all who have had family die through guns have lost.   They leave behind a void--a loud silence.

We cannot allow that silence to become the last word.  You and I now speak for those who have been murdered. It is well past time to take collective action.  Here's a few ways to get started.

II. Inform yourself.

Be sure that the rhetoric from NRA will be plentiful. Here are a few links to background information:
  1. Mother Jones' Guide to Mass Shootings in the US
  2. The New YorkerGun Control Action
  3. NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
  4. Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
  5. States United to Stop Gun Violence
  6. from The Atlantic: A Land Without Guns - How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths
III. Take action.
  1. You can become involved and take action through The Brady Campaign.
  2. You can sign on with Mom's Rising - Open Letter to NRA and Congress demanding common sense gun regulation
  3. Call your congressional representative on Monday and keep calling to demand commonsense gun control.  Here's a link to the phone numbers.
  4. Thank and support those congressional representatives who have been an active force in gun control, such as US Senator, Frank Lautenberg from NJ.
  5. Urge our president to replace sentiment with action NOW. Contact President Obama via twitter, facebook, email, phone (202-456-1111) and demand that he uses his political muscle to get a bipartisan bill out of Congress he signs that brings forth common sense gun control. 
  6. If you own handguns/automatic weapons, turn them in. I recently read that there are 300,000,000 guns in the US.  Here's how you can get rid of your guns.  Contact your local police and ask when there will be a gun collection. Here is a Facebook Page Dedicated to Handing in Guns.
  7. Write letter and send to local media.
  9. Crowdsource this issue. Blog, tweet, facebook, youtube... Get the good word out that we will not be managed by the likes of the NRA and their congressional and judicial followers.
Let's get this going without waiting for Congress. In many ways it rests in our collective hands.


  1. Don't forget to get involved in helping to de-stigmatize mental health care as well as to make it more accessible.

    1. Good reminder Annette. Any links you wish to share or resources?

    2. Thanks for reminding, Annette. Our biggest challenge lies in the minds of all.

  2. Your powerful image and words express exactly what many of us are feeling. Thanks so much for compiling and posting these links. You are so right. We must take collective action to stop this madness from happening again and again. No, much stiffer gun control laws alone won't do it, but they must be part of the equation, as well what Annette expressed regarding mental health care. Also, no doubt, breakdowns within families, all forms of violence within our society and mass media bent on sensationalism are contributing factors to these horrific acts.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.