This is not the blog I wanted to write. I had planned to share my latest musical project, something that gives me a lot of joy, and something I’m anxious to share with my friends and fans. As usual, I had been mulling ideas for a few days, and was about to sit down at the computer when my wife Marion told me about the Sutherland Springs, Texas shooting. I felt liked I’d been hit by a truck. I got a sick feeling in my stomach and my head began to ache. Now music didn’t feel so important. The idea of sharing my story seemed selfish, superficial and ill-timed.
Not a month ago, I posted a blog after the Las Vegas massacre. This shooting hit close to home because it was at a concert, a scenario I’m very familiar with. But the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs affected me just as deeply. Maybe it’s the fact that it happened in a church, or that this was such a small town - reports say four percent of the town’s population was lost, nearly everyone lost at least one family member; or maybe it’s the sense of utter helplessness, knowing that this kind of mass murder is becoming more and more frequent, and that this certainly will not be the last one.
I’m so tired of hearing politicians offering condolences like “Our hearts go out…” “our condolences to the families…” “we offer our prayers to the citizens of…” These remarks are all well and good, but this doesn’t change the fact that these comments are proven to be no more than lip service. Nothing is being done. As Bob Dylan wrote, “Money doesn’t talk, it screams.” Congress is too busy gutlessly dancing to the devil’s tune, played by the N.R.A., to do what the majority of voters polled want; the enactment of safer gun laws, limiting access to weapons by criminals and those with a history of mental illness.
It’s interesting to read about the U.S. in the foreign press. It’s a very good indication of how we are doing, and how we are perceived by those who perhaps, through distance, have a clearer overview of the situation. The reaction overseas to the Texas shooting was not entirely sympathetic. Yes, it was viewed as a terrible tragedy, but there were also responses like, “That’s America. This happens every day. The U.S. has a gun problem but they don’t do anything about it.” This reaction may be a bit insensitive, but it’s understandable. In regard to gun violence, we have come to be viewed as the embodiment of a cliche; the country that does the same thing, over and over, expecting the result to change.
I’m not a psychologist, but I venture to say that Sutherland Springs will never be the same. Words are inadequate to describe what these people have been through, or what the potential long-term effects may be. If the government does nothing else, I hope it will step up to make sure these families receive the attention, support and psychological counseling they need to continue their lives.
It would be nice to think that the people in Texas, Las Vegas, San Bernadino and any number of other places did not suffer in vain. The rest of us don’t individually have the clout of the N.R.A. when it comes to influencing our “public servants” regarding weapons, but we can continue to make our voices heard; and, in the end, we may have the most effective weapon of all. We can vote.
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