Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Epic failures

We've failed our children. Not just you, not just me, all of us. We've failed, because we can't keep our children safe.

As a parent, from the first time you lay eyes on your little one, you know your life has changed forever. This fully-formed tiny person runs things now. Sure they only cry and poop at first, but their schedule is your schedule now, their needs come way before yours, and doing everything to keep them warm, dry, fed, clothed, sheltered, safe and loved is, or should be, your No. 1 priority.

Your No. 1 priority can't be the latest fashion craze, diet fad, or the goings-on of various "reality" shows and stars, or celebrity drama and gossip. It can't even be your job or career, except how it affects how you can keep your little one, fed, clothed, sheltered, etc.

And our babies are always our babies. When they're 3 minutes old, 3 years old, 13 years old, 30 years old, they're always that tiny being somewhere in your mind. If you're grown, and your parents still say, you'll always be my baby, believe them.

My Earbaby is 13. But as the horrific tragedy of Friday, Dec. 14 in Newtown, Conn., unfolded and revealed itself, I continuously flashed on one of my favorite pictures. It was taken at her K2 graduation many moons ago by her friend's mother. EB and her friend, two sweet little girls, had their heads together smiling, while wearing white felt graduation caps. EB is missing her two front teeth. It's such a great picture, it has shown up from time to time as a computer background, much to her chagrin. But this picture of two little girls, cheek to cheek, always makes me smile. Except now, when I think of it, it can also make me cry.

Because that's the same age as the 20 babies that were slaughtered right before Christmas. Twenty babies and six teachers and administrators who sacrificed in an attempt to keep these children safe from a troubled individual with several guns.

It makes no sense to demonize the shooter, or his mother, who was the first victim of his massacre. One may overdose on all the stories of who, how, why, when this happened.

We may continue to debate Second Amendment vs. assault weapons ban vs. the lack of mental health facilities and solutions until the cows come home. Or until the next massacre. Or we can do something.
Yes, we can pray, sign condolence cards, voice our outrage on all social media sites. And we will feel a little bit better. Or we can become activists. Who's your representative in Congress? Call, write, email, pester your representatives. Tell them we want better help for troubled people instead of budget cuts to the health care system and the facilities. Tell them we want to end the madness that a ban on assault weapons is unconstitutional, as if everyone needs military-style weaponry in order to feel safe. Realize that your right to bear arms doesn't trump my child's, your child's, our children's rights to be safe in their own school classroom.

And stop arguing stupid platitudes about arming school administrators. Adding more guns was a stupid (and supposed to be funny) argument when Archie Bunker said it about 30 years ago, saying it was a way to stop hijacking, arm all the passengers. Get rid of gun shows with their lack of background checks. One can be a sportsman, hunter, competitive shooter (I've even covered those events in the past), without deciding that blowing away other citizens, large and small is the sacrifice worth making for your own pleasure.

Just like your right to smoke ends at my nose, your right to drive drunk ends before you plow into my car or mow down that person in the crosswalk, your right to own guns ends before the bullet hits the 40-pound kid learning her ABC's and getting excited about Santa Claus.

Let's stop wringing our hands and shaking our heads. Let's stop sacrificing our babies and our caregivers and act like the civilized society we all pretend to be. Until we become lovers of something other than our selfish need for false power and confidence and bravado from an instrument of death, we're epic failures, as parents, caregivers, adults -- and human beings. We've failed. All of us.

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