Time and bullets move fast
Have the past six weeks been typical for you?
For many, especially here in Warren County, things have just continued on as we expect them to. Kids went to school, football filled our weekends, we all put in our time at work, and relished in the final days of fall weather before the snow came.
But as we did what we always do this time of the year, 92 people were taken, while 577 were lucky enough to escape death, although not unharmed.
It all started on October 1st, with the Mandalay Bay shooting in Las Vegas. Continued 30 days later in New York City, as a terrorist used a truck as a weapon. And then, another shooting less than one week ago during a Sunday service at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
After Las Vegas, I was saddened. After New York City, I was fearful. And after Sutherland Springs, I was livid.
All three had accumulated inside of me and had created such an intense disgust for what this nation had become.
My original draft started in an angry tone and a maddening rant that never let up. Although I feel I was not alone in my fury, that is not the message I want to convey to the reader, nor the one needed. As we have seen enough anger and revolting conduct in the preceding year and a half. The fact still remains, that this country has some grave problems on its hands, and it undoubtedly starts with those in Washington D.C.
We can no longer play into the political warfare that our elected officials have made us so accustom to.
The letter next to their name, the color under their picture, dictates where they stand, where they vote, and ultimately who survives and perishes in this country.
I could, and almost did, write an entire piece on voting out these elected officials who have spent a career on the same party-line politics that have kept the gun and immigration discussions at a pathetic surface level at best, while ignoring mental health entirely. But something hit me that caused me to start from scratch with a new view.
I came to the realization that this is very personal for me. Perhaps at another time in my life, that would not have been the case, but at the ripe age of 31, it unquestionably is.
I have nieces and nephews that at times attend church with my mother. I have family and friends that reside in the New York City area. And we all know of people, or have been ourselves, to a concert such as that in Las Vegas.
Although those factors were absolutely creating a tornado of emotions about these attacks, the enlightening moment came on an uneventful Tuesday night where I was sitting on the couch observing my almost two-year old son, who had had a cold at the time, wrapped in his Yankees’ blanket with a Batman action figure tucked under his right arm, and Pedialyte under his left, watching a movie before bed, that I comprehended, precisely how close to home these tragedies are starting to feel. And just how quickly life can change so much that it seemingly halts.
I began to reflect on the days since Las Vegas, and all that my son and my family had done. The memories we created at Port Farms, my son’s insistence on dancing for hours on end, and of course trick-or-treating for the first time in his life.
Those were the first things that emanated from my memory, but as I thought and scrolled through pictures, I began to grasp just how much happiness we have had in the last six weeks.
Inevitably it came back around full circle, and I began comparing my last six weeks with those 669 people who had either perished or been injured, and of course the thousands more of family and friends that were affected, in the name of hate. The most recent shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, for me was the most poignant in my own life. Where I reflected on the past six weeks’ memories with my son, there are parents who will only know that time as the weeks leading up to tragedy.
This was a small community like all of those in Warren County. So, if you live in Sheffield, Warren, Youngsville, Sugar Grove, or anywhere in between, understand, that this is no longer an over-there, city thing. This is very much a right-here, small-town thing.
If we are going to live in a nation that willingly accepts the fact that, at any given time, we can be slaughtered in hoards while enjoying a concert, mowed down by a psychopath in a truck on a city street, or murdered in cold blood in the house of God, then we are no longer living in a place of sanctuary.
Change needs to happen, or the 48-hour lifespan in D.C. of gun, immigration, and mental health legislation talks after one of these horrific events will continue on as the status quo. We are very quickly falling into a cycle where the next time is happening in less time.
Time moves fast, and people forget often.
Six weeks ago, tragedy struck again, then again, then again, and six weeks from now we will be just a couple of days from Christmas morning. Most of us will be reflecting, much as I did that Tuesday evening, of how we have been enjoying the most incredible time of the year with the ones we love. We will have spent time together at the dinner table giving thanks. Fathers and mothers will have watched their children decorate trees and write their Christmas lists. And all will have counted down the days with great joy.
But time stopped for some. They cannot forget.
The next six weeks will not be incredible, it will be hell for them. They will stare at an empty chair at the dinner table while silently asking God, “why?” Fathers and mother’s trees will go unlit, and letters to Santa will remain blank. And they will recount those final days, while still in mourning.
As they watch their neighbors and the rest of America carry on throughout the holiday season, they will be lost.
I implore you to remove yourself from the political warfare and take a stance in order to change the course of this nation. To not let time move faster than the second hand allows. Remember those who cannot forget. Cherish the ones you hold closest to your heart. And most of all, do not accept the last six weeks as normal.
If we do so today, we cannot save tomorrow.