But I can’t post a travel blog right now. I’m too sad, and I’m too angry about the latest in what seems to be a never-ending cascade of senseless violence in our country.
It is inexcusable to watch the same tragedy unfold, over and over, and to change nothing. Don’t try to tell me that arming teachers is the answer. Or that ‘hardening our schools’ will protect children and teachers. Or that posting armed guards at every school will help (because it doesn’t). Even if we do manage to barricade our schools, what about grocery stores, places of worship, movie theaters, shopping malls, nightclubs, subways, and all of the other public places where people gather?
I know that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” I know that mental illness and the popular culture that glorifies violence are huge issues. I know that there’s no realistic way to get rid of guns in our country. And I’m not advocating for that. But I’m angry that we don’t have legislation that requires adequate background checks, waiting periods, and age restrictions on gun sales. I’m angry that military-style assault weapons are readily available that make it all too easy to kill. I’m angry that our country is so politically divided that we can’t pass legislation for gun safety, even that which the majority of people agree upon.
Most of all, I am devastated looking at photos of those innocent children and teachers, and reading their stories. Don’t tell me not to dwell on it. We should all be dwelling on it. Don’t tell me that it’s a rare occurrence. It’s not rare enough.
When I was younger, I lived in Europe for a year. I came back to the U.S. because I was homesick for the beauty of our natural lands, and I was homesick for my people. Despite my love of adventure and travel, I felt like there was no place I would rather call home. But our country is turning into something that I no longer recognize.
In this time of turmoil and division, I’m hearing a few people saying that we can still turn this around; that we’ve been through times of great upheaval in the past, and that the darkest time comes before the light. I fervently hope that turns out to be true.
I’m as sick as you are Laurel, it all brings tears of frustration to my eyes. And when I look at charts of statistics for gun-related deaths in comparison to other developed countries, the good ole USA doesn’t look so good, in fact, it looks terrible!!! We should be ashamed of ourselves! We really need to look more closely at our elected officials and get each one to commit to disregarding all the gun lobbyists and do what their hearts and us constituents tell them to do.
Terri, I’m having a hard time moving beyond this. You’re right, the statistics for deaths from firearms in the U.S. are appalling. It’s bad enough that the suicide rate is so high, but the murders of innocent children and adults is horrific. We can only hope that our votes will truly make a difference.
Said so sadly and eloquently Laurel. All our conservative friends would be appalled to learn we watch the PBS News Hour–we do so because we get the news–often skewed toward the left but usually middle of the road news. Quiet, polite news with no talking heads screaming at each other. Last night on PBS two different commentators–one who could not keep her voice from breaking as she stood in Uvalde, Texas–called assault rifles “weapons of war.” And that’s what they are, weapons of war–there is absolutely no reason for any citizen to own an assault rifle. Mike and I are gun owners and we know how to shoot our guns but it wouldn’t enter our minds to own an assault rifle. Background checks, age restrictions and waiting limits are common sense ideas. I simply cannot believe it has happened again.
I feel the pain in your words Laurel.. as a country we should be ashamed of yet another preventable tragedy. But instead its easier to blame the police for how they reacted to to THIS tragedy.
Why can’t we fix this… why does this keep happening .. why do children have to be afraid to go to school, why do our politicians in both party lines turn a blind eye to yet another preventable tragedy, why isn’t there a system anymore to help people with mental illness… why? So many whys, it is exhausting to consider ❤️🩹.
Brenda, none of this makes any sense. This kind of violence shouldn’t be happening in a country that really cares about its people. There are far too many people in power who are greedy and soulless.
And yeah, the police didn’t handle this well. And a teacher left the door open. But that’s not why this tragedy happened.
I absolutely agree with you, Janna. Assault weapons were developed for war, and for mass killing. They have no place in our society. It is devastating that these tragedies continue to occur. And equally devastating that nothing changes. I read today that it takes about three days for public shock and outrage to diminish in the wake of such a tragedy. Three days. And then it fades into the background—until the next event.
Good morning, Laurel
We must acknowledge that this is a problem. We have to keep talking about it—today, tomorrow, the next day, and beyond. We can’t stop talking about it, we cannot ignore how real an issue this is in our country.
We need to make our voices heard so that the lawmakers are forced to act.
Kathryn, thank you for your loving support. I don’t want to live in sadness and anger. I don’t like feeling hopeless. I agree with you that we need to continue talking about the problem of guns and violence in our country. I just hope that somehow, we can have enough influence on the lawmakers so that we can create change. It’s long overdue.
We feel so hopeless and almost ashamed to attempt to “move on” yet again from yet another senseless tragedy.
Sharyn, it is unconscionable that these tragic gun-related deaths occur so frequently in our country, and that nothing changes. Honestly, I don’t think we can move on. I think we become more frightened (so some people buy more guns) and/or more hopeless (because our voices are not heard). And so, we just wait for the next tragedy, because we know it will come.
I am heartbroken, more as I read your words, Laurel. Why do so many of us see this clearly and so many of us do not? I cannot understand. I have right leaning people in my life who are gun owners and immediately jumped on the “its not guns its people”. So glad there are people like Janna and Mike. I know many. I also have relatives who say assault weapons are the only way to protect themselves from our own government if they come to take them away somehow. They rave about this. There are too many of them in the country and not enough of us. And who has the money? Who pays the politicians? What lobby stops human beings from protecting their children. The same lobbies that kept cigarettes going for generations, and all the other examples of a society where money and power win. Except, I still don’t understand why my rather poor relatives who have no money in the game have bought into this stupid sh***t. Most of my friends think as you and I and many of our joint readers think. We are appalled, we are angry, we are so incredibly sad, and yet half the country isn’t. Half the country jumps on the gun bandwagon the minute something like this happens, and politicians like Abbot, who mouth the words are turned by big money interests before it gets to his legislature. I have no optimism about this, mostly because of the comments from my daughter’s husband on my facebook comment…and others. My own daughter. Who in every other way I know is a perfectly reasonable person. What hope is there for our country in the face of this gun culture. Sadly, I think none. Sorry for the negativity here…but I am afraid and sad and have no clue. Maybe I shouldn’t put this on your blog. I guess if I am too negative you can choose to unpublish it and keep it for yourself. But you said we need to keep talking about it…you triggered great tears and sadness in me this morning. Thank you and yes, Laurel, I love you dearly, even from a distance, and treasure you, and am so glad there are people like you in my circle of life.
Sue, you are not being negative. You are speaking the truth, and I’m grateful to have friends like you who are willing to speak out. I, too, have been grieving, not only for those innocent children and their teachers, but also for our country.
It’s hard to understand why we can’t get laws passed for any kind of gun safety—perhaps something similar to what we have for vehicle safety. And there is absolutely NO reason whatsoever for people to own assault rifles. I agree with you that all too often it is poor, uneducated people who have nothing to gain who support the agendas of politicians who are only interested in their own wealth and power. It’s sickening.
Laurel, thank you for your heartfelt words.
If Americans could only get beyond the myths of the Wild West and every man for himself, as well as consider that the violent foundation of this country does not have to be perpetuated ad nausem, then maybe better gun laws, like in other democracies, might produce positive results.
It is difficult to have hope in human beings in general at this time. The ease with which we descend into primitive behavior is disheartening. However, everyone’s willingness to mourn and assist those suffering, may bring us to a better day. Bring on the peace doves.
Oh, Sheila…I’m finding it difficult to have hope right now, too. We are, overall, a kind and generous nation, and the outpouring of support and financial donations for the victims and families of the latest tragedy are heartening. But that still does nothing to address the basic problem of a lack of regulations for gun safety…and so, it’s only a matter of time before the next tragic shooting. That is what I find so disheartening.
We totally agree with what you’ve written and are quite angry about the lack of concern about the continuing violence.
It helped me (R) to read a post by Dr. Katelyn Jetlina – “Your Local Epidemiologist” found here: https://yourlocalepidemiologist.substack.com/p/we-can-reduce-gun-violence-in-the?s=r . She left me with a little hope.
Riley, thank you for the link to Dr. Jetlina’s website. I like a lot what she had to say. And her solutions seem realistic and grounded. I like that she said, “We need to mourn this tragedy, but don’t lose hope. Change is possible, and we need to fight for it.”
Let’s hope that she’s right. I think it’s going to be an uphill battle.
I have also paused with posting about our recent trip to Sisters, Bend and La Pine. This particular shooting is weighing very heavy in my heart. They all do, but for whatever reason, my grief for these families and survivors is particularly intense. I am so angry with our government. I read Dr. Katelyn Jetlina’s excellent post last night, and yet I’m still feeling hopeless and doubtful that any significant changes will be realized. I hope I’m wrong.
Lesley, this latest incident has been weighing heavily on me, too. We just can’t keep ignoring the gun violence in our country. I had a momentary flash of hope when I read Dr. Jetlina’s post…and I think her suggestions are excellent. But sadly, it’s not only our government that is failing to act, but the contingent of very vocal right-wing gun fanatics that block meaningful change. It’s all so crazy, and so sad.
Your post says so eloquently what I am feeling about writing anything other than what is wrong with our country that we can’t stop this gun violence. To talk about “hardening schools” and giving teachers guns instead of dealing with the problem that there are 1.2 guns PER PERSON in the US is sickening. As a country, we value guns more than children and I don’t know how we got here. Or how we move forward to a better future.
Annie, the number of guns in our country is insane. And with virtually no restrictions, or education, or other protections in place. I agree with you that the only conclusion is that we value guns more than we value children and the safety of other innocent people. And the suggestions of giving teachers guns is just plain stupid. I don’t want to feel hopeless about our country, but the truth is that I do.
Dear Laurel…..we have so many good people in our lives yet I feel we are drowning as a country. I’m not proud to be an american. I have no hope that things will change. I’m sad and embarrased to admit that, but yet there it is.
Oh, Sue…I take comfort in knowing so many good people. And in our travels, we’ve met kind and generous people everywhere we go. That’s why I find it so hard to reconcile the good people we know with the terrible trajectory of our country. I fear I am losing hope, too.
I could not agree with you more. And I know how you feel about wondering what happened to the country you loved and missed when you were away. We struggle every day with whether or not to come home. We don’t want to. It isn’t appealing. If not for elderly parents . . . . We spent today in Budapest and were struck by the young, vibrant scene all around this clean, safe, beautiful city. And twice the people have elected a man who’s mission is to kill democracy. I just don’t get it. It is happening everywhere. I don’t have much hope for mankind, really. I hope I am wrong.
Linda, I was thinking about you and Steven not long ago and wondering if you will ever come back to live in the U.S. I can certainly understand why you would not want to. But it’s really difficult when you have elderly parents living here. That was one of the big reasons we never considered living abroad. But…now that we’re completely free, we’re considering our options.
It’s interesting to hear your thoughts about Budapest. I spent a couple of weeks there in 1990 and remember it as beautiful. As you said, though, things are crazy in so many places. We seem to be going backwards in so many ways.
Our only hope is with our vote. These lawmakers have had more than enough opportunities to address this problem. Look at their record and vote them out, then vote in people who will reflect the will of the people – and yes, most Americans are in favor of background checks, waiting periods, etc. And why does anyone need an assault weapon? Our country has lost its way.
Janie, I keep holding onto the hope that my vote matters. But I’m starting to feel like it doesn’t matter…especially when there is insanity like that which happened in the 2020 election, and there is still talk of the election being stolen with absolutely no basis in reality. I fear that our democracy is in peril. Yes, we have lost our way.
Great summary of what we really need to do. As a Marine combat veteran of the Nam era I could not be more ashamed of the turn our country has made. It definitely is not the one I went to battle (literally I might add) to protect and preserve.
We are not a democracy when the minority dictates what is and is not the law of the land.
It is so humiliating to have seen men fight for a country that today does not deserve that sacrifice. A very hard thing to say but how I feel as we move down this treacherous path of authoritarianism.
Be well and enjoy your travels, very enjoyable to read about.
LIMA/3/3 USMC 1966-69
Bud, thank you for your thoughtful comment. You said it perfectly, “We are not a democracy when the minority dictates what is and is not the law of the land.”
On this Memorial Day, I want you to know how grateful I am for your service to our country. It brings me to tears to think that you fought for our country and are now having to witness the decline of our democracy. Perhaps somehow, we can still turn this around. I appreciate that you are following along with us in our travels.
Laurel, we feel much the same as you. I am hoping that all of us can find some solace in getting back on the road. It’s easy to dwell on tragedies but traveling opens our eyes to some of the truly great things about our country. I am hoping that revitalized cities, breathtaking natural landscapes, charming communities of artists, cool local restaurants and breweries, and delectable farmers’ market finds will help heal our hurting hearts. I think we all need to continue to be outraged but also be optimistic, and we hope to try to do that by appreciating new parts of our country. At least that’s the plan. Otherwise, I am out of ideas.
Shannon, one of the best things in our travels has been discovering so many kind, generous, and thoughtful people everywhere we’ve been. Which is why it is hard to fathom why things are falling apart in such a dramatic way.
We’re definitely looking forward to getting back on the road for all of the reasons you so wonderfully described. For me, there is still no place as beautiful and varied as the U.S. I am generally an optimist, and I hope that we’ll find plenty to rekindle our optimism in our travels.
As disheartening and hopeless as the situation is, compared to the toxic waste dump that is Facebook (I’m currently debating with someone who claims the teacher who left the door propped open at the school is the real villain here), your comment section is a breath of fresh air. It’s nice to hear from thoughtful people and responsible gun owners and people who recognize how messed up it all is.
I hope your last paragraph is correct. I really do.
Laura, this is precisely why I never set up a Facebook account. I don’t think I could deal with the insanity. Thank you for trying to educate some of those crazy people. I know that you offer them a good reality check.
Reading the comments that people have left here makes me feel not quite so alone, and gives me hope that although we don’t all think exactly alike, we are all reasonable, responsible, caring people. I just hope that this might represent a cross-section of what the U.S. is really like. (I can hope, right?)
Thank you for sharing so eloquently what most of us are feeling. The NRA, an organization that started out promoting gun safety, has purchased a corral full of well-trained politicians who do their bidding despite what a vast majority of the population wants. The campaign donations they receive must go a long way to help wash the blood off their hands and assuage their conscience (assuming any of them still have one). Like you, I feel that I no longer recognize this country. I’m also starting to wonder if I belong here anymore.
Janis, it’s painful to question if we even belong in this country anymore, isn’t it? There is so much I love about the U.S., but it’s becoming more difficult to accept the political insanity. There are so many changes that need to be made to truly make this a democracy, and I don’t know that it’s possible. For starters, we need to get rid of special interest groups and their hold over our politicians.
Yes, Leah. It is heartbreaking, all of it.
Laurel, you’ve given voice to and clearly articulated the heartache, frustration and despair that so many are feeling after yet another tragedy. May this devastating loss of life be followed by appropriate actions by our governments and healing within our country. I wish peace for your gentle soul and safe travels for you and Eric.
Mary, thank you for your loving good wishes…I think this upcoming trip will be healing for us. I’m trying to figure out how to best take action, and I haven’t come up with anything other than the things I already do, which include voting and supporting organizations that have more political sway than I do as an individual.
Your words as well as those of your thoughtful readers should give us a bit of hope that the outrage voiced here will finally force a meeting of rational minds on a matter that should have been dealt with long ago. Unfortunately, I have come to the realization that the quest for political power is so polarizing that politicians can’t even agree on what to order for breakfast. We’ll probably see another gabfest on the airwaves until this subject dies down…and more evil rises up.
Enjoy your trip. Joe
Joe, I feel so fortunate that there are so many good people in our lives. I’m reminded of that every time I post a blog and get such thoughtful comments. It does give me some hope, at least on a personal level. As for our government, I think you’re absolutely right that the quest for political power fuels politicians, much to the detriment of our well being.
I’m afraid we are not angry enough.
The NRA claims to be a single-issue membership organization whose focus is to protect their definition of the Second Amendment with no ties to the gun industry. However the gun industry certainly benefits from the lobbying efforts of the NRA, and I’ll bet that most of their executives and employees are members – likely a requirement in some places. Glock has “donated” more than $1M to the NRA. The NRA spent $3220000 in 2019 on lobbying Congress to stop all attempts at gun restrictions. Other gun advocate groups spend an additional $3M/year. Gun manufacturers spend millions through their own PACs and direct donations to candidates.
Expecting law makers to listen to thoughts and prayers and anger and sadness and the faces of innocent children gunned down in their schools occasionally when faced everyday with the onslaught of pro-gun big money is unrealistic.
Most gun owners don’t own assault weapons and agree they have no place outside the military. The majority of Americans favor strong gun restrictions and banning assault weapons, but until we match the pro-gun faction we will continue to bury our children.
Jodee, it is so disturbing to know that in order to make any headway on reasonable gun safety regulations, we have to overcome pro-gun big money. That’s why I think special interest group contributions to politicians should be banned, across the board. Level the playing field. That might help.
I’m distressed that in approximately three days (which is just about now), this will all recede into the background, and everything will continue just as it is.
Laurel, your feelings and thoughts match mine. There truly aren’t words anymore for this country. I just don’t understand. I hope people get out to vote in strong numbers. We need a change to more level minded people. We need politicians who are more interested in the good than in getting re-elected. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Happy packing!!
I don’t understand what has happened to our country either, Pam. I completely agree that we need politicians who are more interested in what is truly good and right instead of focusing on getting re-elected. This is a very tenuous time coming up with the mid-terms, and could very well determine the fate of our democracy. Let’s hope for the best, otherwise, I fear that the 2024 election will be a nightmare.
Sending much love to you and hoping you will find strength, peace, and hope again in our often brutal and heartbreakingly incomprehensible world. <3
Thank you for your loving and wise thoughts, Joodie. I want and need to focus on all of the positive things in this beautiful life. And at the same time, I do not want to close myself off from the painful and terrible things that are happening. I want to help, if I can. It is a challenge, to be open to both the beauty and the pain of this life.
Im with you Laurel, the world has gone really mad. It is not just the gun totting crazy people in America but also around the world. Look what Putin is doing. It is unfortunate there is no longer good news in any given day. We call the news, depression hour and except for the weather we don’t watch them anymore, too depressing.
MonaLiza, it does sometimes seem as though the entire world has gone mad. The news is terrible and depressing. I have to consciously focus my attention on all of the good things in our lives to keep from feeling overwhelmed and completely discouraged. I hope you and Steve are doing well, my friend.
Your commenters and your reponses to them have said everything I think and feel about this. I admit to being ashamed of my country and its place in the world in terms of gun violence. We are NUMBER ONE. Does that make the gun advocates glad? I’m having a very hard time with all the violence both gun and verbal in this country. So it has taken me a long time to reply to this wonderfully written post that perfectly reflects my feelings. Now it is THREE mass shootings in a week and still our elected officials do nothing as they fear for the loss of support from the gun lobby and right wing fanatics. What ever happened to “do the right thing”? They have no moral fiber. Greed runs this country. I agree that changing the members of our congress is imperative but if the people of Texas and Florida and other heavily republican states where school violence was inflicted on CHILDREN won’t do that then it is out of the control of the rest of us. The gun lobby money would not have power if the people would vote out those who take it. Why won’t they. Where is the list of who gets how much? The changes you suggest are reasonable and it is impossible to understand why anyone would be opposed even the NRA. Who needs an assault weapon? The government needs to be held off by an assault weapon? What is wrong with people? I feel as negative as Sue and am glad she posted her feelings. Thank you for writing this Laurel. I have not posted anything because I was unable. I’m just too sad, too angry and feel too much despair. They say a democracy dies from within and that appears to be happening right in front of us. Am I to believe that people fear the government so much they want facism? That’s what it is beginning to look like to me.
Sherry, I wish our government would step up and enact legislation for gun safety. Apparently an enormous issue is that although the majority of people say they want gun control, when it comes down to voting, they keep voting people into office who don’t support any legislation for gun safety. It is all just as you said, and so frustrating and sad. I don’t know if it’s possible for us to dig ourselves out of the mess we are mired in as a country.