Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Celebrating Day of the Dead

Last night I attended a vigil at our local Jewish Synagogue and it was packed, standing room only. Several honored people spoke from the Jewish community and other local religious leaders. It was a beautiful service yet it would have been better to not have to gather at all. Why do we live in the greatest nation only to have so many persecuted people and crimes against our very humanity? How do people become so filled with hate? Our Jewish, Muslim, LGBTQ+, women, people of color all need our support as they (we) are under attack.

Today we honor the dead and for me specifically, I'm thinking of not only my family members that have passed but all the senseless murders from gun violence and victims who've died because of hate like Matthew Shepherd. That's a LOT of candles to light.  From Columbine High School in 1999 to the most recent in South Carolina two days ago we've had too many school shootings and nothing is being done. School shootings-people are killing and traumatizing our youth-it's really unfathomable, beyond belief. I sat there years ago and watched the news roll out the day Columbine happened and I surely thought this was an isolated horrific incident. Little did I realize it would be an epidemic.

The Washington Post is working to compile data on school shootings and it notes that 219,000 students have experienced violence because of a shooting while in school. The database is work taking a look at-it will make you understand why this is such an important issue. And now it seems places of worship may be the new racist trend. 

Most shootings involve a weapon brought from home or purchased by another family member.  I don't like guns.  I am fine with hunters having guns because it's different; I get that and I'm a vegetarian. I grew up in a family where hunting was an acceptable Saturday afternoon activity. Hunting rifles are generally not used for violent acts against humans.  I like the idea of a gun buyback like Australia enacted or much stricter regulations like Japan has in place. We have a backward group of people represented by the NRA that we will never convince that guns do kill people and if we had less of them on the street we would have less violence.  And assault-style weapons shouldn't be available at all. And before a police officer (in training) is issued a weapon they should have a serious diversity and peaceful negotiation training to pass before being gifted the license to carry a weapon that kills. We cannot support our very own "militia" to kill our citizens. 

I'm on a high soapbox right now and it's Halloween but The Day of the Dead has me thinking about all those who've died because hatred runs rampant and the haters have access to weapons. We need radical change to make these issues a thing of the past. Vote for sensible candidates who think the 2nd Amendment is for hunting and military personnel. Not militias in Oregon or Idaho but people who truly are defending our country in foreign lands. And we need police officers to be tried and convicted. I get that its a stressful job and it shouldn't be used as an excuse.

So today hug your children a little tighter as they share their chocolate with you, and think about the 11 Jewish elders who lost their lives this week, think of the students from Columbine to Parkland and all those in-between. We want change. We need to stand up for each other, we need to have each other's backs. We need to choose peace.


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