I’m in the middle of writing an essay that begins in a room with an x-ray machine and a man asking me to hold a heavy sandbag in each hand. My plan was to lighten up on the “leave” in “live love leave” and write something this time that would make you laugh. But that essay isn’t finished, and today’s shooting hit double digits (which, ridiculously, seems to matter), and maybe some people who read my blog now weren’t reading it the first time I posted this essay.
I have a t-shirt and a rug that tell me that “Love is all you need.” For the most part, I think Jesus and the Beatles got that one right. The world is glorious and the world is hard, and love does what it can to staunch the bleeding.
But maybe it isn’t actually all we need. Maybe we could do better.
So–to old friends, my apologies for posting a repeat. If you hated it the first time, stop reading now. It’s the same essay. If you liked it, please share it. All most of us have as tools to change our world are words. I posted the essay below in 2013, when the Senate decided not to expand background checks.
Yesterday’s Senate action to make sure we don’t expand background checks on gun sales reminded me that maintaining the (deeply flawed) status quo is grueling work. I thought I’d take it upon myself to help our hardworking Senators by drafting a form letter they can use in the future.
Dear Grieving Parents of [insert child’s name],
The United States Senate wants you to know that we will stand beside you in this time of deep sadness. We will light candles, send cards and teddy bears, and go to our churches and pray. We will also watch a great deal more twenty-four news than usual. Some of us may even commit selfless acts of genuine kindness on TV.
However, we think it is important to let you know what we will not do. (You might want to share this information with your surviving children so that they can better understand the illusive nature of their safety.)
1. We will not pass any laws that criminals are going to break, because that would just be stupid.
2. We will not pass any laws until we are sure that they will be 100% effective at ending all crime. Incremental steps that don’t instantly solve the entire problem are also stupid.
3. We will not give up or in any way limit our right to own military assault weapons, because military assault weapons don’t kill people, people kill people.
4. We will not give up our right to shoot dozens of rounds of bullets with a single pull of the trigger. If you were a hunter, you would understand. Game animals travel in herds.
5. We will not take any action to try to keep guns away from criminals and the mentally ill, because they will just get them anyway (see #1 above).
6. We will not place any limits on who can buy a gun, sell a gun, or shoot a gun. Any step in that direction makes it more likely that the government, which is secretly planning to invade your home, will write your name down and come take your guns. Just like they took your car and your cat and your dog when you registered them.
In short, we will not take any difficult action to enhance your child’s chances of survival. We have decided that the murder of children (and adults, for that matter), while highly unfortunate, is a cost we are willing to bear.
We hope you understand how deeply saddened we are by your loss. The teddy bears and balloons should be arriving shortly.
Your U.S. Senate