A project I’m working on for work led to me reaching out to the AIDS/LifeCycle organization and asking for video of the introduction I gave for my friend Neil Giuliano, then CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. I was speaking in front of a few thousand people, so honored to be given the opportunity.
In this video, I visibly and verbally show my emotions near the end, barely able to speak at the end of my remarks. As I think back on that moment, I remember that this had nothing to do with the cause we were fighting for, but more about the sense of community, kindness, love, support and connectedness I knew everyone would experience in the next week. First time riders and veterans like me alike refer to this as the “love bubble” once it has been experienced — within it, differences are non-material, battles become insignificant, and the connection among people who couldn’t be more different becomes a tangible, physical, life-giving source of inspiration.
This notion of connectedness and the power it generates isn’t new. Does anyone remember the movie Pay It Forward?
“What if this world is just a big disappointment? Unless, you take the things you don’t like about this world and flip them upside down. And you can start that today!” -Pay It Forward
The recent events in Roseburg, Oregon and the onslaught of commentary on the matter have been increasingly frustrating to me. My heart is saddened when I see things like this happen – I dream of a world where anguish and heartbreak are not realities we must face at the hands of another person. Similarly, it makes me angry for several reasons:
- First, because of the meaningless nature of the conversation and ridiculous solutions recommended to prevent future similar events.
- Second, because of the limited memory of the American hoi polloi who more and more seem to respond to the latest evocative event with less context for the history proceeding it and the future it predicts.
- Third, because of the lack of recognition that when people do die tragically, we must make their lives have purpose and meaning in the way we live differently because of that impact.
It’s important at this point that I acknowledge something: I recently completed the RCW 9.41.070: Concealed pistol license application. As a single gay man living in the city, despite living in a secured building, I worry about my ability to protect myself in any number of circumstances. I don’t plan on carrying this thing around, but I do plan on having it close at hand at my bedside. I plan on knowing how to use it. I will protect myself.
I realize this point of view could surprise some — of the many political and galvanizing issues I openly share my point of view on, guns and gun control have not been one of them. It’s expected I join the chorus of other Democrats and sing the praises of gun control – I won’t and I feel that point of view simplistic and juvenile. Similarly, I don’t support free wielding access to weapons that serve no worthwhile purpose other than to do harm, and I think the Constitution needs to be rewritten — a militia these days could form from any faction at any point and their formation is probably much more due to our lack of accepting alternative points of view as opposed to strong desire to “overthrow.”
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Article II (Second Amendment), United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)
This portion of the Constitution is so misused in support of unending gun ownership I can’t even begin to address them. Read the actual words of the Constitution — and look at all the times “militia” is mentioned. Militia really means the Reserve.
These shootings inspire the type of do-nothing-but-say-a-lot social change activism and arm-chair quarterbacking I believe represents a vast majority of America — and it needs to stop. Start paying it forward, doing something with your words, or shut the fuck up. No one needs more words lacking action.
What are you doing,
to change things?
Mass casualty events caused by guns are sexy — they allow the media to tap in to the emotional ethos of people on both sides of the issue. It happens to young people in educational institutions because we as a country have failed to look after and nurture our youth, determine when trouble is at hand, and beyond that, are litigious and combative when other adults attempt to help our sons and daughters . This creates a breeding ground where crazy parents create crazier children, or when troubled children’s issues are unaddressed because the “community” has not taken accountability for their upbringing.
That same community will point fingers when there is an issue, however, and this becomes our scapegoat.
When was the last time you saw a multiple-gun death at a retirement home? Older generations have been led through their upbringing in a way that has given them the tools to cope, understand, and relate to the world around them —
Gun violence is personal and local. These 10-100 person “shooting events” feel more personal and therefore more relatable — it’s like comparing a bomb going off in Kabul to a bomb going off in Boston. There’s a guy, with a gun, yelling things at our children, our teachers, our policemen and the unending crawl of victim names and pictures reminds us, mostly, that they look like us.
Remember when video games were accused of causing violence? Imagine learning in your kindergarten class that stabbing someone’s leg with a pencil could save you when you are under attack? Imagine how that child might develop the notion of protection, safety, and attack if not carefully curated and mentored by a community who views these lessons as more than just a response to duress.
So what if we eliminated each and every gun?
I agree with Republican pundits on this point: crazy people seeking to do harm will find ways around the restrictions — the “war on drugs” has illustrated this clearly.
In the internet age, with so much information available and mail-order components available to things that could be built to cause mass-casualty, I worry we end up with more bombs at public events, poisoning of our water supply, takeover or elimination of the vast data that runs our country and our economy, takedowns of our communications infrastructure, or biologic weapons being unleashed for which we have no defense…and which most households couldn’t outlast. When will the very personal local shooting develop in to a city wide event? I worry about that.
So this brings me back to the “love bubble” — the spirit of kindness, connectedness, and mutual hope for each other’s well-being and also something greater. This love bubble is created when we unite around a common cause, when we have a sense of purpose that is greater than us, our community, or our organizations benefit, and when we look after each other and cheer for other’s success and stop dancing upon any missteps or falters.
It’s going to take all of us succeeding for this world to have a future worth being proud of. So it’s time we start paying it forward, and stop blaming guns, single mothers, fringe religions or whatever other distant thing we feel is least like us. I’m sorry to say, but I think what we see in the perpetrators of these acts is merely an amplification of what we are becoming as a whole — more detached, less feeling, and less inclined to help each other or have concern for the well-being of the community versus just ourselves. I don’t think it’s fair to expect any more than where we are today given that. People around us are lashing out begging to be heard, loved, protected, and cared for — and we’re doing little collectively in response to that need.