How many more innocent children must be slaughtered before we do something?
How many more grocery shoppers, or church-goers?
How many more fellow citizens must die or be maimed in petty arguments that escalate due to the presence of guns?
How many more women must be threatened, stalked and killed by gun-wielding ex-lovers?
How many more loved ones must be gone forever, due to suicidal thoughts and access to a gun?
I’m asking Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, who just signed legislation allowing adults to carry a concealed handgun without a license or training, and the governors of 22 other states who have signed similar laws.
I’m asking every member of Congress who refuses to even consider common sense gun regulations. The same ones who tweet out their thoughts and prayers every time another senseless — and likely preventable — mass shooting happens.
Thoughts and prayers. It began as a cliché. It became a joke. It has putrefied into a national shame.
If tonight, Americans do turn heavenward in pain and grief for the lost children of Uvalde, Texas, they may hear the answer delivered in the Bible through the words of Isaiah:
“And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.”
Large font text above from this article by David Frum in The Atlantic
But I’m also asking you, Mr. and Ms. Responsible Gun Owner. Because I have more hope that you’ll do something to stem the tide of bloodshed.
The shock and horror of mass shootings focus our attention. But most of the casualties are inflicted one by one by one. Americans use their guns to open fire on one another at backyard barbecues, to stalk and intimidate ex-spouses and lovers, to rob and assault, and to kill themselves. Half of the almost 48,000 suicides committed in 2019 were carried out by gun. All of this slaughter is enabled by the most permissive gun laws in the developed world.
OK, I haven’t taken to yelling at clouds yet, but I DID write to the City of Cincinnati to school them on the many benefits of the “zipper merge” when they had traffic barrels set up on the road I take to work.
(Sidebar: the Zipper Merge deserves its own post… study up here.)
And I used the Fix it Cincy! app on my phone to complain about the sinkhole forming near a drain on the baseball fields near our house. Because if someone were walking there after dark, they could break a leg. And not in the Broadway sense.
And I also used the Fix it Cincy! app to get a Grand Canyon-sized pothole filled on a busy street near our house.
I sent in my request on a Thursday night, and the pothole was repaired by Monday afternoon. (And yes, I filled out the feedback survey to let them know I appreciated their prompt response – I can do compliments just as well as complaints.)
You can’t fight City Hall. But you can ask them to be wise stewards of your tax dollars, and fix what needs to be fixed. And if you don’t reach out, you’ve got no right to complain. But feel free to yell at clouds all you want.
But it should be “What a Mann!” Day instead. Here’s why:
It’s the birthday of the man who said, “Education is our only political safety. Outside of this ark, all is deluge.” The father of American public education, Horace Mann, was born on this day in Franklin, Massachusetts, in 1796. He grew up without much money or schooling, and what he did learn, he learned on his own at his local library, which had been founded by Benjamin Franklin. He was accepted into Brown University and graduated in three years, valedictorian of his class.
He was elected to the state legislature in 1827 and 10 years later, when Massachusetts created the first board of education in the country, he was appointed secretary. Up to this point he hadn’t had any particular interest in education, but when he took the post he dedicated himself to it wholeheartedly. He personally inspected every school in the state, gave numerous lectures, and published annual reports advocating the benefits of a common school education for both the student and the state. He spearheaded the Common School Movement, which ensured all children could receive a basic education funded by taxes.
He was elected to the United States Congress in 1848 after the death of John Quincy Adams and, in his first speech, he spoke out against slavery. He wrote in a letter later that year, “I think the country is to experience serious times. Interference with slavery will excite civil commotion in the South. But it is best to interfere. Now is the time to see whether the Union is a rope of sand or a band of steel.”
When he left politics he moved to Ohio to accept a position as president of Antioch College. “I beseech you to treasure up in your hearts these my parting words,” he told one graduating class. “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”
Pretty impressive stuff, eh? I’d say advocating for a basic education for all children, funded by taxes, is a “victory for humanity.”
But it’s an ongoing battle. Some narrow-minded folks are packing school boards and trying to whitewash the not-so-great moments in the history of this great nation. “Ignorance is bliss” to those who crave power instead of democratic (small d) ideas. That’s not the “force” we need.
“Education is our only political safety. Outside of this ark, all is deluge.”
[tip o’ the cap to my friend Phil for putting Mr. Mann’s birthday on my radar. ]
About a month ago, Paul Stanley of the band KISS sent out this tweet:
Such a sweet sentiment from an unexpected source… this is the guy who wrote “Love Gun” right? The Twitterverse responded in kind(ness):
Never thought I’d get great life advice from a guy who wears kabuki makeup, spiked boots and spandex for a living, but there you have it.
Of course, there is a flip side to this sentimental record…
Today is my mom’s birthday. She would be 87… but she only made it to 33. This photo was taken in July of 1968. By November of that year, she was gone. That dapper young lad on the far left (striking the perfect JC Penney catalog pose, might I add) left plenty unsaid… and has zero memories to cherish.
I’m not trying to throw a pity party on my mom’s birthday. But I have plenty of friends who are dealing with the many challenges of having elderly parents – multiple meds, doctors appointments, surgeries, chemo, dementia, cleaning out decades of accumulated “stuff” from a home, paying the bills, assisted living, nursing home, hospice. I’m sure it can be a pain in the butt. If you’re in this situation and feeling the burden, please re-read Paul Stanley’s notes for a bit of perspective. Remember that you’re blessed. And it sure beats the alternative.
Tell your parents how much you’ll miss them when they’re gone. Tell them how much you love them and remind them of all the memories you cherish. What you do today will give you peace of mind and comfort tomorrow.