Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Dear Diary #1 (In the category of Want What You Have)

Forgive Me, Diary, for I have Lapsed,

It's been twenty-five years since my last entry ... journal notation... letter to myself...whatever...

My BFF sometimes worries that I record her life events with commentary of my own -- slanderous perhaps, or libelous, if I type it here: "I shudder to think what you put in your journal about me," she has said to me more than once.

I don't have the heart to tell her I don't keep a journal.

Or, I didn't.

Until today.

Wait, that is not true. I have a few notebooks I saved from my nine-through-twenty-three years. Some are spiral bound, some are thread-bound; one has Strawberry Shortcake on the front cover, sun hat atop her signature curls and a watering can in hand -- it's a dream journal that I kept when I was nine -- the year my parents got divorced. At some time I had cut the strap that held the sides of the tiny, brass padlock in place, proof of my youthful negligence; a lost key and no patience to search for it. I tried to re-read the dream journal entries after I became a "grown up," and my only take-away is that I was a weird kid.

This shocks no one.

But dear, dear Diary, we are not here for this — nostalgia. I'm looking forward to 2016. It's a milestone year for me. If all goes as it should during the upcoming presidential election, it's a milestone year for all American women. It's been nice, in the past eight years, to see American politics go beyond the usual "old white dude" paradigm. I'm all for continuing that trend.

I've changed so much, dear Diary, since I last bothered to coalesce my thoughts in this format. For starters, I consider myself a better writer -- all this practice has not gone amiss (that is a self-esteem thing...I have a stack of rejection  letters). I'm wiser -- I won't say in what ways. More foolish, too. You would be amazed what you can learn about yourself if you live long enough, and if you allow yourself to try things you never tried, taste broth you never sipped, suggest adventures to others that you could scarcely conceive for yourself and found yourself disappointed when no one else liked the idea. Irony becomes a friend and gravity an enemy, if you live long enough. If you're lucky...

Dear Diary, am I lucky?

30Dec2015. KHN

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The NRA Won and We’re All Screwed (In the Category of Say What You Mean)

Two shootings this week. Two! I’m past angry, I’m despondent, and that is unusual for me. I typically fall into the category of annoying optimist. The National Rifle Association (NRA) won; they own America and we’re all going to die from a bullet one way or another.

It could be a toddler that grabs a legally purchased gun and points it at us, because he’s seen it done on TV or watched Daddy do it. The gun isn’t supposed to be loaded of course, with children so close in proximity, but it is. Bang. As of this October, young’uns were gunning themselves and the grownups down at a rate of about one a week. Why? Because they have easy access to a loaded gun.

It could be the angry kid that shoots us in school – any school – any age – with a gun they legally purchased or their parents did. I’ve called Blacksburg, Virginia home since 1984, even now, though I live in the next town over. I wince whenever Virginia Tech comes up as the number still to beat as far as mass shootings go. It makes me want to take 32 flowers to the memorial on the drillfield, place one by each stone, and weep again for the potential forces for positive change that the world lost that horrible day.

We could be walking home munching a bag of skittles when a racist gun nut, with a legally purchased gun, decides we are scary and shoots us. We could be attempting to evade a store security guard who caught us shoplifting when the self-righteous gun nut with a legally concealed, legally purchased weapon decides to be judge, jury, and executioner for what is not, in any jurisdiction, a capital crime. Worse, we could be innocently caught in the gun nut’s fire. (Luckily for shoppers at this particular store, this crazy bitch was a bad shot.)

We could be at a medical facility, or a church, a synagogue, a mosque, a rally for our Senator, or a movie theater, and someone with their own political or religious agenda, or their own personal beef, could show up and open fire on us and everyone around us and kill or injure many of us in seconds. Why? Because some dumbass in the NRA thought it would be cool to give Americans easy access to military style, high powered, high capacity, semi-automatic weapons that can spray dozens of bullets in only a few seconds.

As a powerful shill for gun and munitions manufacturers, the NRA has systematically blocked every reasonable policy and political candidate that might suggest restricting the types and numbers of fire arms that Americans can buy. Every card-carrying member of the NRA has blood on their hands. They fund this tyranny. They help give the NRA the money it needs to buy politicians and keep the sale of all types of guns and bullets flowing unimpeded in America. I hope they are pleased with themselves, all the men and women who have financed the greatest engine for violence and bloodshed the world has ever seen.

The ridiculously easy access to guns and bullets ensured and protected by the NRA has led to a saturation of armament in our society. It is all too easy to settle even the littlest of life’s frustrations by pulling out a gun, legally purchased, and shooting whoever annoyed us. The gun nut who murdered a kid for playing music at a volume he disagreed with just got convicted. One less gun nut on the streets, but nothing will bring back the dead seventeen-year-old. The flood of legally purchased guns has also well-armed the gangs and felons that contribute to the narrative of gun violence in America, and all because the NRA has backed the gun makers rather than the citizens of this country. It’s about profit. It’s about greed. It’s about control. It’s not about keeping Americans safe and it never was. Even the majority of NRA members agree that gun control is an important issue, but the organization continues to push against it; why are these members still paying dues? Surely they give enough support to the gun makers by purchasing guns and ammunition.

I know someone whose co-worker, an NRA member, brags that he buys a new gun and another 1,000 rounds after every mass shooting because he thinks the president (whom he refers to by the n-word) will have a chance to stop gun sales in America. He has no tolerance for gays, either, and he has amassed an arsenal greater than most police forces. All anyone can do is hope he doesn’t choose to act on his intolerance or snap, because it is all completely legal. Of course even if he snaps, he gets to keep buying guns. Thanks to NRA efforts, folks who know they are mentally ill do not have to disclose their mental illness to gun dealers because of privacy issues.

I knew someone who was murdered by a gun. I knew someone who used easy access to his gun to end his own life. If you come to visit me in my beautiful mountain home, expect me to take you to see 32 white stones in a semicircle of grief. Gun violence is personal to me. It’s personal to every person gun violence has touched. Yesterday, it got personal to the families of thirty-one innocent people who were either killed or wounded while celebrating the holidays with their co-workers, one of whom got angry and got a gun—a legally purchased gun.

Thank the NRA and all of its card-carrying members who help fund the madness. Many more will die.