I don’t want to argue about guns. I don’t want to argue about mental health.
I don’t want to argue about what the Republicans are doing or what the Democrats are doing or what the NRA is doing or who did what when and why.
I don’t want to talk about guns because I’ve done it before, and I know that no matter what is said, half of the people stop listening because they start arguing. You can’t listen and shout at the same time.
I want to talk about what can be done. And I don’t know what that is. Do you? Because if you do, I want you to tell me so I can do it, too.
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I want to live in a world where my son isn’t afraid to go to school. I want to live in a world where I’m not afraid to drop him off with his Pokemon backpack and say goodbye because I don’t want it to be the last time I say those words.
I want the solution to be easy because we stopped making it hard.
We are the adults in the room, and we make rules and address problems. It’s what we are here to do. We need to just do it and argue about it later.
My son loves peanut butter, but he also loves his friends and two of them have allergies. His classroom is nut-free, so he doesn’t eat nuts in his classroom.
I’m going to be up-front about this. I’m not fully on board with nut-free schools, and it’s not because I think my son’s right to a PB&J is more important than your kid’s right to breathe. It’s because I think your kid can’t grow up thinking he lives in a nut-free world because that’s going to be dangerous for him someday.
But I don’t fight that fight when a kid’s life is on the line today. I talk about it in larger discussions about how we can make changes long-term that will benefit the kids in the long run. But today, I don’t want my son’s friend to go to the hospital, so I send cheese and crackers for snack instead of a granola bar.
Hopefully, what my son takes from this is a prioritization of what is important in any given situation. I think he has because when he makes a bagel for breakfast, he picks cream cheese instead of peanut butter so he doesn’t expose his friend with crumbs. I don’t make him do this. He reminds me.
The kids of Parkland, Florida, are reminding their state government, the president and the world that they survived something that shouldn’t have been a survival situation. They are reminding us of their classmates who didn’t, the children of Sandy Hook who didn’t, the people attending a concert in Las Vegas who didn’t, the people at church in Texas who didn’t.
The kids get it. Do today’s classwork and that gets you ready for the big test.
I don’t know how to keep guns out of the hands of people that want to hurt children or churchgoers or music lovers. I don’t know how to get everyone in the country who needs psychiatric help the care that they need. I wish I did. I don’t.
What I do know is that it’s not as easy as one motion, so we have to stop fighting about what the first step is.
I know that no Republican wants a kid to bleed to death in the hallway outside math class. I know that no Democrat wants to strip anybody of their freedom. I know gun owners, and gun store owners, and I know they only want people safe. I know scared parents and gun control activists and I know they only want the same thing.
So maybe Democrats want to talk about guns. That’s great. Let’s actually listen to what the ideas are, not mutinously wait to say why it won’t work. Let’s say “OK, and …,” tacking another idea on top of it.
Maybe Republicans want to talk about mental health. That’s great. Does anyone actually think we don’t need more options for mental health? Let’s hear what’s on the table and then find more things to put on that table and then let’s go get another table, too.
What it starts with is always the listening, and then the acting.
So if you care about this, if it affects you, if it scares you, do something. Don’t wait for the next time it happens. Get informed and get involved. Go to a school board meeting. Talk to your local legislator. Call your congressman. Drop a postcard to your senator. Don’t let them all forget you want things to get better.
But for the love of everyone we love, let’s stop arguing so that someone — some teenager with a passion or kid with a simple “1+1 = 2” understanding — can start something happening that might stop people dying.