B.S.

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There have been other school shootings, other tragic senseless murders. Countless, really. Why is this one any different? I think it’s the students. It’s their pure, raw, real voices. I can’t watch the TV without crying. I can’t stop thinking about 17 young people who are gone, and of their surviving classmates who are left with the choking reality of real terror and the images of their friends screaming, running, hiding, bleeding, dying. The voice of one girl pierced my heart when she said that no one is thinking about what they should wear to prom or what college they will attend anymore.  This was reality in another life.  Now all she has on her mind is the death of her friends.

Previously when watching reports of other sick and senseless school shootings, I’ve identified with parents and grandparents of slain children and it has been powerful and emotional and I’ve been horrified.  This time, however, as I listened to the survivors, I could actually imagine cowering in my own high school classroom listening to rapid gunfire and praying that my life would be spared while wondering which of my friends wouldn’t survive. I feel raw outrage and shame that our country isn’t better than this.

I was in Europe when the news broke about the massacre in Florida. World news coverage makes it clear that this is specifically an American problem. We defend ourselves with the lame excuse of our second amendment right. Besides the NRA and those who profit financially from gun sales, (including politicians), is there any sane person out there that really believes this right guarantees anyone and everyone the right to own any kind of weapon they want, even ones capable of mass killing? We’re not talking about your hunting guns or the gun you bought to protect your home or family. We’re talking about weapons of offense, the kinds used for one purpose only – massive human carnage.  Can anyone explain to me why anyone needs such a weapon?

Shame on us. Shame on my generation.  We’ve allowed that 2nd amendment right to go way too far. It trumps the right to life. Life, liberty and happiness. Life, people! The right to go to school and live. The right to ponder prom dates, football banquets, final exams. And when it is suggested that we solve this problem by adding more weapons to the mix, we must scream foul! We must ask ourselves who benefits financially from that?  More guns? Really? Doesn’t that conjure up images of the old wild west? Is that what we want? Really? Is that what a great America looks like?  Are we not capable of much better than that?

The students of Stoneman Douglas have taken up the challenge of bringing some sense, some good thing out of the loss of their right to experience any semblance of a normal high school life and the right to grow up with 17 of their friends and classmates. Their voices, joined by the youth in every school, in every state of this nation will lead us forward into a better America. They won’t stop until we have real common sense gun laws.

One large political donor has had enough. He pledges never to write another check to a candidate who opposes banning assault weapons. Others will join him. One company cuts ties with the NRA. Other companies follow suit. Still others will follow.

When there is a lack of leadership, the youth will rise up.  When there are seemingly no solutions due to conflicted alliances and allegiances, the youth will rise up. When there are no answers to specific questions but diversions, candid talking points, and spin, the youth will rise up. They will speak with certainty, clarity and simplicity.

BS!’, they cry and thousands join them. Thousands more will follow. They will have the right to vote soon, and they will vote.  They will run for office and they will change things. They can and will do better.  Godspeed!

Young girls get weary

To all the husbands out there who come home on occasion to find that a tearful irrational, moody, alien has taken over their wife’s body, I have a thought for you -Young girls get weary and frankly old girls do too. It’s a fact. Sometimes heaviness comes from out of nowhere, overtakes us, and we get sad. Sometimes we cry.

I remember a time when my children were younger – I had the blues for several days. I didn’t know why I was sad. I still don’t.  I adore my husband and my children were  the light of my life, yet I couldn’t get out of the funk I was in. Could I be depressed? Was it hormones? Was I exhausted? Was I subconsciously missing something in my life?

My husband was taken aback. I think he was a bit frightened. He couldn’t understand, couldn’t help or fix me. He offered to get me professional help. A few days later, I was back to my former self, wondering why I had been so down in the dumps.

I went for a walk shortly after that and stopped by a friend’s house. There was an arrangement of flowers on her entry table. “Oh, is it your birthday? Anniversary?” I asked.

“No,” she reluctantly explained. She told me that her husband was trying to make her feel better because she had been inexplicably  sad as of late.

“You too?” I thought.

Since then I’ve had many such days (I’m a fairly old gal).** and my husband has pretty much learned when to lean in and when to back off.  I’ve also spoken with hundreds of girls who relay similar stories along with the ways they have learned to handle their own difficult days. Granted, there are some of us that need to work through some of our stuff in the office of our psychiatrist, but for the rest of us, we are becoming adept at recognizing the coming of the blues and aren’t as surprised by them anymore. We aren’t ashamed or afraid of feeling sad. We know the doldrums will leave in due time. We learn how to shorten our unhappy moodiness by seeking friends to talk to, getting out of the house, going for a walk, taking some ‘me’ time when possible. In the long run I think, the sad times enable us to anticipate and enjoy the good times all that much more.

As for the dozens of frustrated men who have expressed their exasperation at the sudden gloomy transformation of the women they love, I can’t think of anything better to say to them than what’s already been said by Three Dog Night.

**clue to how old I really am- check out the wardrobes

 

 

Her

Roadkill - Dead Deer on roadside.

 

I saw her again today.  It’s been awhile since her memory has come up and that is a good thing.  At first I thought that even time itself would never be able to erase her image from my mind.  I’m almost startled to realize that time has, in fact worked its magic and I’ve almost forgotten her.  But today, I see her again.

I am heading to Atlanta driving north on interstate 85 and I pass a deer lying rigid and still in the grass on the side of the road.  Its graceful and beautiful brown body is rigid, exposed and alone as hundreds of cars pass quickly by.  Several passengers glance at the deer for a moment, vaguely recognizing some form of mild indignity.

I pass by and think, “what a tragic injustice,” because I remember something else, someone else.  I see the deer and I think of her, the beautiful young South African girl.  A girl with no name of whom I am forever linked.  We share an eternal moment of unwanted intimacy.  She, the totally exposed and vulnerable one and I, the shocked and sickened voyeur.

I saw her shortly after the traffic began to slow.  My friend had planned a special day of lunch and shopping and we were moving along a busy highway.  We had been in the car for about 30 minutes enjoying each other’s company and the exquisite beauty of South Africa.  The last few miles gave me an opportunity to view the other South Africa and the inescapable evidence of extreme contrast.   I found myself unashamedly gawking at the township on my right through the privacy of my car window.  The township is a fantastic mosaic of cardboard, tin and wood strung together with a maze of electrical wire, littered with people and trash, and slung out as far as one can see.  I remember wanting to take it all in, absorb a bit of understanding as to how life is possible for the faceless thousands who eke out their existence in a place like this.  My friend suddenly applies the brakes and our car is forced into a slow-moving crawl.

We assume there must be a traffic accident up ahead which is quickly confirmed as we see a police vehicle.  As we approach the site there is a black automobile pulled over along the right hand side of the road and a woman who is visibly shaken, talking to a policeman, her arms crossed.  The windshield of her car is shattered into a million glass diamonds, some sparkling on the hood and some on the ground.  I look around for the other car involved in the accident.  There is no other car.

There is only a girl.  She has lovely brown skin and is hauntingly beautiful.  She is alone, uncovered and in repose.  Her body is being silently viewed by passer-byes who are slowed but not deterred from getting to their pre-determined destinations.  She landed at an odd angle against the concrete medium separating traffic going in opposite directions.  “She must have tried to hop over the barrier to get to the other side,”  my friend remarks.  “It has happened before.”

We are briefly horrified.  We pray for her soul.  We too pass by, propelled like the others in the tide of moving traffic.  We discuss possible ways to prevent another such tragedy.  We can’t seem to come up with any workable solution.  We continue on to Stellenbosch, mostly in silence, where we have a lovely lunch and do some shopping.