To everyone

This isn't an open letter to our elected leaders or officials, or to anyone specific.  It's just a note to anyone who will read it.  It's from a Dad with two sons that loves them as much as a human can love another human.  

 
A few precursors:

I don't watch the news very much because it is never good news.  So I'm not the most informed person when it comes to current events.  But there are some things that make their way to all of us no matter what - which is why I'm writing this.  Also - please forgive any grammatical or spelling errors - I'm an Artist from Northeastern Pennsylvania - not a journalist.  :)

 
I can not imagine how devastating it is to lose a child.  My heart is broken for all those who have suffered during any of these violent catastrophes that have happened in our country.  I weep for all of the loses and for the generation that has to learn how to duck, and run for cover, that has to partake in emergency evacuation drills - not just fire drills as part of their childhoods.  Our children are forced to know that someone can get an automatic weapon into their school and open fire - and they have to prepare for it.  I don't remember having to learn that kind of fear.  For my generation (I'm 42 by the way) a fire / safety drill was learning how to get out of the building quick and safe if there was a fire - but it was also a few minute break from school.  We weren't scared.  We chuckled in our single file lines as we marched out onto the playground.  We relished the warm air in anticipation for recess where we'd zip around and play tag.  Our parents weren't scared.  They were pretty sure we were safe at school so they could focus on working hard and making better lives for us.  I weep for all of the parents who now send their children on the bus and wait an extra minute or two until it drives far enough that they can't see it anymore, thinking they're getting just a few extra seconds with them.  I weep for the parents that drop their kids off at school and watch them get unbuckled, reach to give them a squeeze and tell them to have the best day and then - feel some level of anxiety watching them scoot all the way until they walk through those doors.  Then they're thinking... God only knows what could happen.  And it's unfair and unnecessary.  I'm sure we all feel scared on some level - from the parents, to the kids, to the teachers and administrators - and they are probably asking themselves and each other 'What the hell do we do with this?  How do we keep our kids and each other safe?'  In looking for a bright side I suppose we are also brave, and strong and seem to have some sort of faith that it will get better.  Because we all keep on keeping on.  We have faith that we're doing the right things...
 
I'm not writing this because I have an answer or even a suggestion that will enable us to not feel afraid or worry when we walk out the door in the morning.  I'm writing this because I'm sad and scared and I know I'm not alone.  I know there are millions of people all over that feel the same.  We are worried, and upset and maybe feel a little bit lost.  I'm sad and scared for my children.  I'm sad and scared for your children.  I'm sad and scared for all of us.  And I don't know if there is a clear cut solution.  But... I feel like leaning extreme one way or another creates more problems.  So maybe some combination of smarter gun laws and more government funding for mental health wellness and more education would be a good place to start.  I feel like education at home - just teaching our kids compassion and empathy - maybe encouraging them to reach out to the kid alone at a lunch table or the kid walking around by him or her self on the playground could help.  I think as grown ups and as parents and as people - if we just treated each other a little better - from our 'leaders' (and I use that term loosely) to our friends and families - to strangers walking down the street - I think it would help.  A simple 'hey how's it going?' might change the course of someone's day.  A lot of us probably already do this stuff...  But maybe we're tapped out... exhausted from it... jaded.  Or maybe some of us are out of answers - and hope.  And I can understand that.
 
I feel like a lot of our country has regressed in being drawn to rhetoric and dramatics over meaningful discourse, compassion, education, empathy and understanding.  It seems widespread - like some sort of troublesome film is hovering over all of us.  In my heart I believe it's time for a peaceful, meaningful revolution - or better yet a cultural rebirth of people taking responsibility for our country, our communities and our future generations.  Instead of waiting for our elected officials to make the change maybe WE HAVE TO MAKE THE CHANGE.  I don't know - maybe we need to explore some modern takes on previous generations values and re-read our own history, take the good parts and put them to use.  Again - I'm wise enough to know that I don't have the answers - it's why I've never run for an office.  I do know something has to change.  We're at the boiling point.  We're losing loved ones, faith and hope. We're hiding behind the internet.  We're immersed in having a voice without a face, without volume, without FEELING.  Hell, I'm partaking in it right now...  It seems to me like we are living in fear rather than with a subtle sense of pride and community, and with the confidence that this really is the best, the safest place in the world - that no one can harm us.  I remember feeling like that when I was a kid.  No matter how bad the news was - like hearing things about nuclear war and the like - I lived in America and we were always going to be safe.  But this is happening from the inside out.  We're destroying ourselves and each other.
 
I need to ask a question that gets specific to our country's very recent history - does a person who isn't in the armed forces or an officer of the law need an automatic weapon?  I'm sure its fulfilling to own on a level that I do not understand, and exciting to collect and to use.  I do not contest that.  And in the right hands Im sure it can be used responsibly.  But traveling to the moon would be fun and exciting too - and we have Astronauts do that.  I think we could all agree that non-Astronauts should not be able to turn 18 and buy a rocket ship.  If you want to go to the moon - educate yourself to be an Astronaut.  I believe there are some limits - that we are limited in what we can handle collectively as a country.  And we have to be honest with ourselves and not everyone is going to be happy about it.  And I think the priorities of our elected officials is unbalanced in regard to those limits to say the least.  At this point what does a civilian need that kind of weapon for??  If it is really that necessary - where it would equate to taking Legos from a small child then lets have designated SECURED facilities where people can use these weapons, that mandate by law to keep those weapons THERE at this place where they know the risk they are taking walking in.  It's the same same as keeping the legos in the play room (this way no one steps on them with bare feet).  I'd like to know how necessary it is to have that kind of weapon at home or why it's normal to be able to just go out and buy it as if it were a toy?  Its not like we're fighting off secret underground bands of attackers for our freedom or our lives.  Instead - we are essentially running for our lives... We're running from each other.  And it's perfectly legal to own the weapon that instills that kind of fear.  I understand there will still be an illegal market for them and people will still own them.  But where else can we start?  And YES - this is also a mental health issue as well as a gun control issue.  And YES this is a government issue too.  But I refuse to be fooled by the government that has made it clear they care more about money than they do about the safety of US and OUR CHILDREN.  I refuse to be mislead by whoever needs to have an automatic weapon as a hobby that shoots a thousand rounds a second or whatever (apologies for the lack of weapon knowledge)... because even though I am not against guns and gun owners and their right to have them - I am against someone who is not in the armed forces or law enforcement being able to turn 18 and buy something that can kill large groups of people in seconds.  Keep in mind - that same 18 year old can not buy a beer - not even one, and rightfully so.  They may not have grown responsible enough at 18 years old to operate a car and be trusted not to drink and drive.  That is because it could put people's lives at risk.  But it's not against the law for them to buy a weapon that they can own legally and walk into ANY crowded, enclosed area and start shooting.  That specifically becomes about all of our safety - of course including our children.  It becomes about us feeling and being unsafe in the mall, at the movies, at a concert... basically anywhere.
 
My writing this is not a political rant with an anti-gun agenda or government bashing or anything like that.  I realize that I have so much to be thankful for because of the country I grew up in and because of all the freedoms I enjoy.  This is just someone who is trying to understand what the hell is going on in our country...  Someone who is heartbroken to tears for all the people these incidents have affected.  This is just a dad, a son, a brother, and a friend who is worried about his kids, his family his loves ones - and all of you as well - who is just writing, reaching out, feeling a little lost and looking for hope somewhere.... looking for answers...  So I ask myself and I ask you - do the people who make your laws and run your country genuinely care about us and our children?  Is that why they wanted that job as a civil servant in the first place?  Are they - in REAL LIFE - making choices where they have all of us and our best interests in their minds and as the major part of their decision making process?  Because that's the reason they get votes and support from us right?  That's what we are taught to believe - that they represent US and who we are as a people.  And because I'm not foolish enough to think that my letter concerns them, or that my life or yours interests them - this question is far more important (and it's a position our elected leaders have forced us to be in).  Am I doing enough to make this world a better and safer place for my kids, and your kids and you and me and all of us!?....  I'm pleading with you all to please ask questions.  Be educated and mindful.  LISTEN to what's going on around you and be part of today - be a part of making today AND tomorrow better.  Be empathetic - CARE for each other.  Hug your kiddos and all of your loved ones a little longer today.  And it's just my opinion - you can still pray and feel for all of those who suffered these tragic losses - I think that's ok.  But let's go a step further.  Please also put something into the world that can facilitate growth and love.  Because it feels like we're on our own and this could take a while...  With love - Michael Lambert
 
 
 
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