I couldn’t decide if I should write about what happened on Friday. Shoot, I’m not even sure if I’ll post this. But, if you’re reading it, it must mean I decided to post it. Please remember that these are just my thoughts. The thoughts of a parent of two beautiful children A parent who is tired. Tired of hearing about mass shootings, about people’s fear of losing rights, about mental health access, and from the NRA. I’m a mom ready for change. Ready for people to recognize and put aside their fears and politics. I’m ready for some reform. Please also know, what I’m about to say is MY opinion. If you choose to comment, please be kind to me and I’ll be kind to you.
When I think about this tragedy, I feel very overwhelmed with emotions. I find myself crying for those who lost their lives way too young. My heart breaks for the parents. I can only imagine the pain they feel, the emptiness. I can only imagine sitting in my child’s room knowing I would not see her again. I will not hold my boy again. Just this thought makes my eyes well-up with tears. Following this tragedy, every moment with my kids seems more sweet and somehow more important. When I disciplined my daughter this weekend, I had pangs of guilt knowing some in this country, will not be able to do that. I almost felt like I shouldn’t scold my children at all; that all my time should be spent hugging and squeezing them. I need to move on from grieving.
Beyond the grieving, we as a country, must begin to heal and find ways to improve. I know I will never fully understand why something so senseless happened. God only knows. I do know we must take steps as a nation to prevent this from happening again. We must examine what the causes were and address them head-on without fear and politics. Experts need to evaluate and look for trends.
Trends. I know there are trends. I, a non-expert, can see trends in this incident and in the others. There are two that are screaming to be addressed. An individual with mental health needs which when either unrecognized or under-addressed has hit the point of no return. They had access (easy access) to weapons. Not just any weapons, but assault weapons. Weapons using a magazine and has the ability to fire off several rounds before requiring a reload.
One thing I’ve learned in my life is nothing is simple. What seems simple is almost always more complicated. Therefor, the solutions are always more complicated. Preventing another tragedy will be just as complicated. There are no one cause but multiple. Each cause reaches out to so many other issues. But whats important is that we address these issues head on. We don’t wait for one more tragedy to touch us personally. We must begin to look at what is the best to keep all people of this country safe.
Here is my personal opinion on weapons and ownership of guns. I believe if you want to own a weapon, you should be allowed to for self-protection and to hunt. There is no reason these weapons should include assault weapons or any weapon using a magazine and allowing multiple rounds to be fired without reloading. These types of weapons are NOT needed to protect or hunt. These are weapons used to do large amounts of damage to multiple targets. They were made for military use and should remain military use. I do believe we should ban these military-style weapons from the civilian market. I’m not saying there won’t be a black market for these weapons, but it certainly would decrease the availability for those like the most recent shooters to obtain access to them.
We need to find ways to reach out and treat mental illness. This country still fights with stigmas associated with mental health. Funding is tremendously low to the point where it is difficult for mental health facilities to remain open. It’s difficult for families to obtain resources. Addressing serious mental health issues is one of the ways we can help prevent these tragedies in the future. I believe we need to increase funding and resources for mental health in this country. We need to make it easier for people to access services and make the services at a cost all families can afford.
One day, we the United States will take action. We’ll remember that every child isn’t just someone else’s child but a United States citizen worthy of protection. We’ll start believing in taking care of all children because ALL children are precious. Not just children, but ALL people are precious. We will stop living behind our fears and stand-up for what’s right. But in order to do that, WE must agree to have conversations. Yes, simple conversations that talk about what we value and what is realistic.
In ending, I want to express my hope for the future. Despite the horror that unfolded, there is hope. Hope for a future without violence. This hope comes from God’s strength provided to the heroes and heroines of this event. Those who protected the innocents. I’m very proud of these people; they responded calm and collected under an extremely stressful situation. They did what was needed to keep those who completely trusted them safe. And to them, a whole country is grateful for the courage this small town’s people showed.
There are many very well-educated and not so educated people advising anyone who will listen to them on the politicians running for office. Don’t worry, I have no intention of telling you who to vote for or even attempt to sway your vote one way. Ultimately, you will vote for whoever seems best for you and your family’s situation. So, if you want to read a post about who I think is the best candidate, please stop reading because you won’t find that here. If you want to read a post about my opinion as to why elections are so very important, keep reading but remember, it is my opinion. You won’t find a whole lot of facts or statistics, just opinion.
The right to vote is one that history has proven people will fight and die for. People desperately want to have their voice heard, they want to have a say in their countries direction. Strangely enough, the right to vote is one that many in this country either neglect to assert or go through the motions. Too many focus on a specific party and vote year after year for that party’s candidate without examination. I say, that’s a vote wasted.
Since I’ve become a parent, I’ve taken my job voting very seriously. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve voted in every Presidential election since I turned 18. My first election I was a senior in high-school and was a very well-educated voter on the issues and candidates thanks to the senior year government class. The next election I was fresh out of college and will admit, I listened to someone who seemed well-educated and voted for a candidate not Republican or Democrat. I felt voter regret when I saw the candidate that was elected and voted against him the following election. So, you see, what I’m going to suggest, I didn’t always do.
Now, as a parent, I fully understand the importance of elections. These are the leaders who represent us to the world. They are out there in the publicly and say, “This is what the United States’ people believe”. They are direct reflection of us to the rest of the world. They create polices and legislation that will directly and indirectly impact our children and their future. Their actions and in-actions will determine our country’s safety and security.
I want to urge you to step back from your political party affiliations and to evaluate what are your values and the important issues to you. Also consider the type of world you want to have your children live in. Is it a world where everyone is taken care of, a world of equality and in a country that values education? Do you value culture and promoting immigration? Do you believe the wealthiest individuals in this country not only have the means but the power to change and grow this economy and most importantly, that they will? Where do you want to see Medicare in 15 years or 20?
Take a minute and to write all of these thoughts down so you can review it later. Then start your research. Look at both candidates’ positions on those issues. Write those down. Don’t stop there. I urge you to look at the candidates’ records beyond what their ads say. Actually get into the history and write down what you find. Examine these candidates on consistency in their message and where they’ve aligned themselves. Evaluate how they’ve raised their funds. Look at what those who’ve worked with them say about them. I urge you to put some time into research looking beyond with their political parties say about them and searching for unbiased information. Again, write it all down. Once you’ve completed your research, compare it to your first list and choose the person who matches your views and goals for the country. If you do this, you will be educated.
It’s a lot of work, but when you look at the importance of elections for our future and our children, isn’t it worth putting in a little bit of effort? Especially when considering that these candidates seem very polar in visions and policies.
Oh, and here’s one site to get you started. It compares Romney vs Obama on some of the issues.