Heartbeats

Stop what you’re doing. Just for a  moment…stop. Reach out your hand, doesn’t matter which one. Take the opposite hand and press two fingers to your wrist. Press hard till you can feel your pulse…your heartbeat. That gentle tick tock tick tock. If you can’t find it there, reach up to where your chin meets your neck and press in. Count the beats. Were you just waking from sleep? Did you go for a morning run? Is it slow, is it fast? How fast does your heart beat this morning?

Heartbeats blog post tragedies

Now let go. And think about the 2 men who’s hearts no longer beat today. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Think about the 5 cops in Dallas who lost their lives mere hours ago. They had heartbeats too.

Think of the victims who died in Baghdad days ago and in an Istanbul airport days before that and the victims of the Pulse shooting before that. Reach back into our too near past and count the heartbeats that have stopped. Ferguson, Paris, Sandy Hook, Newtown, Virginia Tech, Columbine, 9/11 and on and on and on.

What do these events have in common? There are different evils at work in each case, but there is a common thread. Heartbeats. Hundreds of thousands of heartbeats. The light and healthy heartbeats of children and teenagers. The heavier heartbeats of young, middle-aged and older adults.

It’s true…we have a race problem.

We have a terrorism problem.

We have a gun problem and a bomb problem and a hate problem.

None of which will ever be fixed if we don’t stop and think that the people standing next to us have one thing in common with us….a heartbeat.

I have one…you have one. Alton does not. Philando does not. Stanley and Amanda and Oscar and Aracena and Rodolfo and Antonio and Darryl and Angel and Juan and Luis and Cory and Simon and Leroy and Mercedes and Peter and Juan and Paul and Frank and Miguel and Javier and Jason and Eddie and Anthony and Christopher and Alejandro and Brenda and Gilberto and Kimberly and Akyra and Luis and Geraldo and Eric and Joel and Jean and Enrique and Jean and Xavier and Christopher and Yilmary and Edward and Shane and Martin and Jonathan and Juan and Luis and Franky and Luis and Jerald do not. The cops in Dallas, who’s names haven’t been release yet because their deaths are that fresh, do not.

Pulse Victims names heartbeats blog post
Photo courtesy of CityofOrlando.net

Don’t become immune to this violence that is plaguing our country…our world. It would be easy to do. Terrible events like these are becoming more common and our news sources are flooding us with images and video footage and statistics and outrage. This is their job. And I think it’s all they know to do right now. They have heartbeats too remember!

As I’ve said before, I don’t know what to do to fix it. But I know I was given a voice. We all have that in common too. See how alike we are.

I didn’t forget that we’re different. I didn’t forget that you live there and I live here. That maybe you’re a Republican and I’m a Democrat. That maybe you’re an Atheist and I’m a Christian. That maybe you’re gay and I’m straight. That maybe you’re black and I’m white. I didn’t forget.

I just don’t care about what makes us different. I care about what makes us the same. I’m asking you to care about that too.

It’s not enough. Change must happen, we must demand it. That is important. This is the time. But right now, reach your hand back and feel your heartbeat and thank God or whatever you believe in that you still have one today. Cause not everyone does this morning.

It’s sad and it hurts and it’s wrong. I hope you feel all those emotions that remind us we are alive. But more than that, I hope it makes you mad. I hope you get so mad that the demons know you’re coming for them.

And in the aftermath of death and death and death I hope we start preserving and protecting heartbeats. All heartbeats. Mine and yours and his and hers and theirs. They’re all the same.

Hey, we HAVE to start somewhere. Start now.

No More!

I don’t usually comment on current events. I prefer fictional events, usually concerning dragons or spaceships or magical realms.

But these school shootings…they have to stop! Enough is enough! How is this still happening? How do we live in a “free” world in the 21st century, yet we’re shackled with issues like the death of our children? I don’t know the solution. I wish I did. (I feel like Captain Picard could work this out in his sleep.)

Here’s what I know…I know I’m tired of press conferences about gun control and mental health. Because we’ve gotten really good at talking about it. Yet here we are 16 years after Columbine and we are still just talking. We live in a nation divided. The “free” world is littered with semi-automatic weapons, internet bullies and dead kids.

You can’t trust the media because everyone has an agenda. And one wrong step on social media and you can almost hear the hate mail flooding in.

But amidst all that shit, I think we can all agree…Republicans and Democrats, homosexuals and heterosexuals, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, men and women…we don’t want to hear the names of any more dead children.

News outlets bring experts on to talk about what we “could have” done to prevent this. In 3 months they’ll be back to tell it to us again, so what’s the point.
We have failed this country if in 3 months we are still just talking.

I went to see The Martian this weekend and it was a beautiful movie. But it made me sad, because it looked like a fantasy world. And there weren’t any dragons or Hobbits or Wookies or wands. But it didn’t feel real. Not the man on Mars part, but the hopeful, helpful Nation waiting on the Earth below.

We live in a broken, scary, partisan world. A nation divided. A world divided. And I don’t have the answers. This blog isn’t about the answers. I’m not nearly smart enough to have the answers. But I can ask questions. And maybe we’ve been asking the wrong ones.

I read an article the other day that really asked a lot of the right ones. (Read it here.) Even that writer doesn’t have all the answers, but hey, it’s a start!
If The Martian taught me anything, it’s that there are many people out there who are much smarter than me. But what I have is hope. I believe in a better future. I believe we can still change things. I believe that celebrities aren’t the only people who can use their voice to make a difference and that politicians don’t all have to be slime balls (though I’m still waiting on confirmation.)

So let’s stop listening for the next announcement that someone has lost their cool and gone on a killing spree. Let’s start using our God-given brains. What do we need to ask? What do we need to do?

The first question I might ask you is – do you want to wake up to another school shooting? Do you want to see this happen time after time? Do you want killers to be immortalized and victims to be forgotten? We know the names of the shooters and the bombers, but can you name the victims? Seems to me a young troubled teenager, looking for a place in this world, with demons too loud to fight might just think taking up a gun is the only way to be heard. After all, that’s how Harris and Klebold and Lanza and Cho and Harper-Mercer were heard. They may have died, but I sorta think they got what they wanted. A media circus dedicated to them.

I think of my baby nephew who was born days ago. He knows nothing of right or wrong. He doesn’t know the hateful things people do to each other. He is a blank slate. He is a clean slate. He is the hope that tomorrow won’t be hell on Earth. And I’m terrified for him. It’s not just colleges and high schools anymore. Sandy Hook taught us a whole new meaning of the word fear.

So let’s start asking questions. Questions about why anyone would need a semi-automatic weapon…period! Questions about why the gun show loophole is still in effect to this day. Questions about why politicians can’t get out of each other’s way and walk across party lines to shake hands and understand that this is not a world we want to be apart of. And that every day people like you and me will no longer stand for press conferences and expert opinions about troubled killers who are allowed to do these things. I don’t want opinions…I want solutions.
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*Photo Courtesy of My So Called Crafty Life