I sat down and typed this on Father’s Day, 2016. Trust me; this was not planned or meant to have a significance to the day, although it does.
One week ago, June 12, 2016, I woke up like it was a typical Sunday morning. My wife, son, and I would get ready and head to the 11:00 AM church service. As I rolled over, my wife said very quietly. “Did you see about the shooting?” I blinked and tried to get my bearings from waking up. “No,” I mumbled and looked down at my phone. I began scrolling, and scrolling, and still scrolling as every news App on my phone had sent out notifications early in the morning. All I saw was words, and my stomach felt as if I could throw up. “Shooting,” Over 30 dead,”42 Dead, 36 Injured,”Gay Club,” and I stopped and clicked my phone off.
Although I am a news junkie, I did something no one who knows me would believe. I flipped off my phone, began getting dressed for church, and loaded up to head out. I did not look at one article, blip, or turn on the news. Nothing.
Physically, I could not will myself to look at one news article or turn on any news station. I could not read another article depicting and explaining the “new” American Mass Shooting. My Facebook “Cover Photo” is still set to “Enough” in remembrance of the San Bernardino shootings for God’s sake.
It was not until driving home from church 3 hours later that I looked down to see my phone read, “50 Dead, 51 injured in Orlando.” My heart hurt like it never had.
I looked back at my son, watching cars go by and dancing to the music playing on the radio. I gave a sigh and my wife, who was driving, asked what was wrong. I muttered, “50 Dead, 51 injured.” But, it is what happened next that hit home. My wife, looked in the review mirror and began spelling: “T-H-E M-A-S-S S-H-O-O-T-I-N-G in Orlando?” And I nodded. I looked at my son, three-year-old and smart as a whip.
Although I have a book 95% ready to be published, and a blog I have not posted on in over a week, from last Sunday until this Sunday, I did not write one word. Not with pen and paper, on my phone, or on a keyboard,
Why? I physically could not bring myself to. The words I wanted to write, I could not conjure and get out. The words I needed to were far suppressed below many feelings, thoughts, questions, and swirling sentences.
It was not a groundbreaking realization, but it was for me. I realized as I sat with my wife spelling “Mass Shooting,” of a reality of the country I live in. I am not disregarding or speaking ill of my home, not in the least, but it was something I never imagined growing up I would need to prepare myself for. It was something I never expected would be required of fatherhood in the year 2016 in the United States of America.
When I was growing up the biggest “talk” I had was with my Dad in Red River, New Mexico overlooking a small stream where he explained the, oh you know, “Birds and Bee’s.” But driving home a week ago, I realized I would have one more “talk” to have that my father did not have to have with me. “Mass Shootings.”
I began thinking more and wondering. “Am I making this up?” Then I realized, I was not. Not at all. It was a talk I would need to have at some time, or else there would be more confusion and panic down the road. Because with any of these “talks” it is about reducing the shock, explaining the topic correctly to reduce clutter, and making it “normal” even though it is more out of the ordinary
How do you turn the “talk” of the Birds and the Bee’s into the subject of “Mass Shootings?”
Although my father got the daunting task of explaining sex to his son in a way that it made sense, explained how it worked, and answered any questions that may arise (by the way, you did awesome Dad). I realized that I received one more “talk” that will need to be had. I will need to figure out what age is “appropriate” to explain how in our country every so often one, or maybe two, people will get big guns and kill a lot of individuals.
No offense, but if you ask me that is a crappy end of the deal, But, to those scratching their head and wondering if I am on to something, welcome to the year 2016. I guarantee I am not the only person around my age having the same realization that first, we had to explain to our children about “School Shootings,” and then “Theatre Shootings,” and now we have progressed to just “Mass Shootings.” No rhyme or reason. Could be in the day, or at night. A gay club, or a hospital for less well off individuals. No logic or red flags. But, know that it will happen unless significant changes take place. Reality? I will say it again: Welcome to 2016.
What age? What age do I sit my son down and begin explaining this topic and constructing a fictitious moral landscape? Going in the depth and trying to explain that some people are very confused. And explaining exactly how these people can kill such a large number of individuals. Now, that part is done, and it is explained. But, the hardest part? Follow up questions. Questions a young, vibrant, quizzical mind will conjure of which most I can not be “ready” or prepared.
“Why do they do that?”
“Why doesn’t someone stop them?”
“How do they get a gun to do that?”
“Can someone not sell them that gun?”
“Where will the next one be?”
“Did they kill children?”
“Did they kill mommies and daddies?”
“Did they kill grandparents?”
“Do we have a gun?”
“Why do people need guns?”
Trust me, this is a small list and is only the tip of the iceberg of “possible” questions. And to be honest, I do not have a damn clue how to answer one of those questions. I will not even pretend to. Why?
Because I can not answer them for myself.
I know how I would love to answer them, but it is not remotely the country we live in. It should be very clear, but it is not. At least, we have made it not clear. We, as American’s, have made it harder than it should be.
I will not drone on pulling out facts, statistics, and rhetoric that you can find on hundreds of thousands of places directly after a mass shooting. But, I do leave you with a question that I hope spurs some seed in you.
Do we want to continue growing a country that in 2016 a father of a three-year-old has to decide and figure out what age it is “appropriate” to explain what a “Mass Shooting” is? That there is no “Gun Control,” and what he should do if, God forbid, he found himself in an active shooting situation?
Today that is not being “dramatic” or in some way “over-reacting.” Nope. That is being an involved parent, informed, and preparing your child for what awaits them outside their front door.
Maybe… Just maybe… Enough is finally enough? Let’s do something about guns. No one needs a gun that can kill 50 people in less than five minutes. That’s no “Right”; that’s insanity.