This can’t be the new normal

I am sickened, saddened, and angry all over again.

Yesterday as I did my early morning check of Facebook, I smiled at a memory that popped up from 3 years ago. It was a picture of my then 3-month-old granddaughter dressed in a little Valentine’s outfit withcanstockphoto50204846 school icon a little red and white stuffed bear next to her. She was propped up in a chair and holding a sign that said, “I love Nana Sue and Papa Tom”. It made my day.

Early afternoon, I talked to my daughter who is the mom to the oldest of our 4 grandchildren. She had just finished registering her 5-year-old for kindergarten next September. She learned that she’d be taking a bus to school and not going to the school within walking distance. The 5-year-old was excited at the thought of a school bus with her friends.

I learned about the latest school shooting in Parkland, Florida just before my husband and I headed to that daughter’s house to babysit the 5-year-old and her 3-year-old sister, so the parents could have a Valentine’s Dinner date night. The story was still unfolding, and the number of injuries and fatalities were still unknown as we drove to her house.

But watching just a short news piece I saw the anguish of parents anxiously awaiting news of their children. And I saw the fear and pain of the students who survived as they were being escorted out of the school by armed police officers.

Parents send their children to what should be a safe and nurturing learning environment every day. Yet, parents now with increased frequency wonder if their children will return home. Continue reading

When can we talk about it?

Like you, I woke up Monday morning to the horrific news that at least 50 people were dead and over 400 people injured at the kind of venue we have been to before: an open-air music event with thousands of people.

But this was not a terrorist attack in some foreign country. This was our country. The United States of America. The land of the free. But sadly, it is also the land of guns. Americans own an estimated 265 million guns, more than one gun for every adult.

This time it was a 64-year-old white man who had amassed over 40 weapons and had carried over 20 of them into his hotel suite a few days earlier. These were semi-automatic weapons modified to shoot rounds so fast that in just 10 minutes he ended or injured over 500 lives. Not to mention the psychological damage for the thousands who escaped, survived, tended to others on the scene, transported them to hospitals or cared for them at the hospital. 

I was in Chicago attending a healthcare forum on Monday. But no one was talking about what had happened. Are we so numb to gun violence in this country that we watch that initial news story in horror but then move on? Were the few hundred people in that meeting room with me distracted during the day and wanting to know more about what had happened? Were they quietly looking for answers? Instead of just looking at email on their phones were they looking for news updates and trying to comprehend this awfulness yet again? 

I saw an alarming image and statistic today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.5 million Americans have been killed in the U.S. in gun related incidents since 1968. That is more than the 1.2 million service members killed in all the U.S. wars combined. The caption said, “We are at war with ourselves”.   Continue reading