The four issues I care most about, and devote a considerable amount of time and energy to, are affordable health care, gun violence, public education, and arts education. As of late, I have been thinking about the underlying, common variables that run through the roots of all of these issues and I see a trend. Apathy.
I attended a vigil for Sandy Hook yesterday at the Federal Building in Los Angeles. The Brady Campaign, Moms Demand Action, Organizing for Action, IKAR, and Women Against Gun Violence partnered up to produce a three hour interfaith program to commemorate the one year anniversary of the Newton mass shooting. A couple hundred people turned out for the rally – great people, and very dedicated, and this MOMocrat was one of them, front and center, but only a couple hundred people showed up.
Where was everybody?
The speakers were leaders of all sorts of different churches, temples, mosques. Some were reluctant members of the group of parents, children, siblings, cousins, grandparents, and friends whose loved ones were murdered by people with guns.
There were demonstrators who made it a priority to be there. Some of them had lost people to gun violence. Some said that Sandy Hook was the last straw. Some have been passionate about common sense gun legislation for a long time. Powerful individuals, but few in numbers.
Jackson Browne even came and sang a couple of tunes, very fitting for the occasion. He stayed for the rest of the rally.
The music, the speakers, Jackson Browne, and the quality of the production warranted an audience of a couple thousand.
Where was everybody? Shopping? Watching TV? It was Saturday afternoon. The planners picked a time that they thought would be the most convenient for people, and it was well publicized, but they didn’t come.
We got a lot of honks and thumbs up from those who drove by on Wilshire while we were demonstrating. That felt good. It would have felt even better if they had pulled over, parked their car, and grabbed a sign.
Why didn’t they?
The parents and students who were interviewed the day before yesterday after the Arapahoe High School shooting said the same thing that we’re used to hearing after every school shooting, “This isn’t supposed to happen here”. The Denver metro area is the capitol of mass shootings. It’s time Colorado starts asking, “Why is it happening here?”
There is no one answer to this very complex problem, but I do know, and so does everybody who made the time to be at the rally yesterday, that doing nothing is the absolute worst thing we can do. This is a problem that is so huge it requires many answers. I believe that the root of the problem is American Individualism run amok. Me, me, me – I am the most important person in the Universe, and to hell with everybody else. Looking out for Number One has led us to this point. We have lost empathy for one another. We have lost our connection to one another. We don’t feel any responsibility for one another. The sufferings of others are not my problem. It’s all about me.
Now what are we going to do? Are we so self absorbed that we’re out of touch with our own kids? Are we so busy consuming and getting and protecting our stuff that we’re out of touch with each other? Are we so overwhelmed with keeping our heads above water that we don’t have time to care? Are we so defeated by the greed and corruption of our elected officials that we just throw up our hands in disgust and check out? Are we so paranoid about our guns and “rights” that we’re out of touch with reality?
Whatever the answers, they are no excuse for doing nothing.