Be warned: Today’s Family Word Snacks are not about vocabulary building. Sure, there are words and definitions, but it’s not about that today. Today is different. Today I’m fuming! Disgusted. And, as a parent, I feel a little frightened and pretty helpless.
I’m responding, of course, to the endless gun violence. Today’s school shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School near Seattle is just the latest of far too many. Every day, when I turn on the news, I have to protect my daughter from seeing or hearing anything about daily local shootings, never mind the assorted violence across the country.
We read and write about our children, doing all we can to raise them the best way we can. We send them to school for an education; we go to work to make a living to provide for our families. . . . No one should have to worry about guns, mass shootings, snipers, disgruntled workers, armed kids with real or delusional scores to settle. Life is hard enough when “nothing” is going on! Anyway, I should have stopped at the word guns. “No one should have to worry about guns.” (period)
I’ve been fortunate to live in three countries other than the U.S. where guns are illegal for personal use. The news there? Not a horror show. Big surprise! I could walk around by myself at night without fearing for my life; and I lived without the constant burden of fear (because it is a burden). Oh yeah, and being a parent in that kind of gun-controlled, normal-news, relatively fearless environment . . . kinda nice. Plus the chances of your child, or you, getting shot just because go way down. Yep, nice! (By the way, I have been randomly shot at before, in the States, of course.)
I love my country. And I’m familiar with far, far worse places; so, I do appreciate it. But just because I’m proud to be where I’m from, and it’s better than some ultra-violent nations, does not mean I, or any other concerned U.S. citizen for that matter, don’t get to criticize the government, particularly in matters of public safety. In fact, we have an obligation to do so.
And what happens in the U.S. ripples outward, starting with our border neighbors. This was a rough week in the news — the Ottawa parliament shooting, the Washington school shooting, and a host of local shootings in hot spots around the country, but what’s worse is that this week isn’t out of the ordinary. Certain stories just get more media attention. I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to pick up and move my family to a safer country today. And I’m sick of having to choose between watching nauseating news or sticking my head in the sand.
I’m a concerned parent who wants an answer to this absurdly outstanding question: How many people have to perish before serious changes are made in the United States to protect its citizens rather than its guns?