Nearly two months ago, I turned 30. Thirty. 3.0. It seems so foreign when I read the number from my computer screen. What does it even mean? For me, it has meant starting down the path to creating my own family. Talk of marriage. Talk of children. Talk of settling down.
Ugh. Settling down. Why does that make me sound so old? But the reality of it doesn’t scare me like it did before. It seems natural. Or it did until the world decided to go bat shit insane.
Unless you’ve been camping in the wilderness without televisions, radio or facebook, you know about the Newtown massacre. You know that twenty innocent children were gunned down. I was working from home when the incident happened. I turned on the news to see what exactly happened. I turned it off a few minutes later. It was simply too much for me.
I can’t fathom how parents all over the U.S. must feel (let alone any parent that is grieving one of their angels) right now. How much you want to hold your child close and keep them safe from all those monsters in the world. The only correlation I can make in my mind is how much I love my spouse. My family. My brother. My dogs. They are all little pieces of me, and they all pale in comparison to how it must feel to love your child.
And then the onslaught happened. Tragedy turned into media blitz. FOX News just got done criticizing everyone speaking out about guns after the NFL incident last week. Now we have Newtown. People are saying guns are the problem. Others are saying there aren’t enough guns. I’ve seen friends argue that if Teachers were packing heat, lives would have been saved. I’ve seen others claiming zero guns = zero gun death. And a lot in between. To add salt in the wound, I’ve had to hear all about Westboro Baptist Church and asshats like Mike Huckabee blame the Newtown incident on a lack of Godlessness and a rising embrace of Homosexuality. So great. First we cause hurricanes, and now we are responsible for madmen shooting little kids?
The world is in this massive tailspin right now. Side vs. side. Opinion vs. opinion. What is the right answer? Is this a political issue? Is mental health widely under examined?
But then I started thinking about all the families in the world, where this is common place. The countries in Africa where militias roar through a town and shoot up children and women indiscriminately. Or the Middle Eastern conflicts over Gaza. How many families are crying themselves to sleep tonight after finding out that a bomber in the square blew up their beloved?
So the hard truth we have to face. As people. As a country. We need to decide who we want to be. What kind of culture do we want to create? One quote that has stuck by me through the years: “Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.” Benjamin Franklin. And it occurred to me – If we want freedoms, we have to pay a price for those freedoms. If we want guns available and accessible as expressed in the Constitution, then we have to understand that insane madmen will get access to them and do unspeakable things. If we want to rid ourselves of guns. A tool mean to kill and only kill, do we really deserve the security we’d find by denying our liberties? If someone wants to kill a bunch of people, couldn’t they just make a bomb? To be truly free, means to live in chaos. Can we handle the ramifications of chaos?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. But I find myself asking them. If one day, down the road, I’m responsible for a child, and he or she asks me about this, I’d like to know I’ve given it thought. I’d like to know what kind of person I want to be. I’d like to know that I’m doing what I can to keep them safe.
So at 30, I don’t have the answers. I can’t solve the world’s problems. All I know is Hate isn’t going to move us forward. Hate isn’t going to bring back those kids. Hate isn’t going to stop the violence in other countries. Love might. And I don’t mean the hippie-centric idealized love that so many scoff at. I mean love of humanity. Love of life. If we can value that, it might be a start. Whether we have guns or not, if we start loving everyone, and stop seeing the differences between us more than the similarities, we might have a much better world for my future children.