Letting Tragedies Into Your Heart

"You can't let all the world's tragedies into your heart. You'll drown. But those you let in should count. Let them manifest action." - Lin-Manuel Miranda

I cried this morning. Within minutes of waking up, I was in tears. It feels like everything is broken right now. I don't know what to do today, or what action I could take to make things better. My Senators and Congresswoman already support gun safety legislation. I don't have much money to donate right now. I'm not allowed to give blood.

I guess I'll write.

Last night before I went to sleep, I saw a video of the shooting at the concert in Las Vegas. I could hear the constant cracking sound in the background and see the people running around in a panic. When I went to sleep, I didn't see any reports of deaths or injuries yet. I didn't want to stay up to find out. I couldn't deal with it. 

When I woke up the reports were 50 dead, over 200 injured. 

I didn't believe it at first. 50 dead?! 200 injured?! Can that be? Again? As numb as our society and culture have become to these mass shootings, when I hear about them I never feel numb, at least not at first. It hurts. The pictures, the videos, the confusion, the anger, the pools of blood, the families searching for a missing member. It's beyond overwhelming. I can't process it. I can't think about it for too long. 

As of right now, the New York Times is reporting 59 dead and over 527 injured. I imagine those numbers will go up.

59 human beings murdered, another 527 injured. One person did that in virtually no time. Does anyone really think it makes sense for any random person to have the capability to kill and injure that many people in a matter of seconds? Think about that. One guy from a hotel room killed over 50 people, devastated hundreds of families, and emotionally scarred the lives of God knows how many innocent people. I think it's ludicrous.

As I've tried to think through this today, it struck me that my sense of optimism, at least in the short term, has almost disappeared. We don't have a President or a Congress that thinks anything substantive needs to be done to stop this.

We also don't have a President who can speak with grace, humility, and authenticity after tragedies like this. We won't have a Charleston moment. We won't won't have a president publicly shed tears. And while President Obama couldn't pass the gun safety laws we needed and still need -- it mattered that he spoke about gun safety and called for action, and it mattered how he spoke about it. He spoke like a President. Like a leader. We need unifying moments so, so desperately right now -- especially after a tragedy like this. Especially when we're scared and angry and we don't know what to do.

It doesn't look or feel like we will have a unifying moment. Instead, it feels almost inevitable that we will devolve into unproductive bickering.

I watched the press conference today with Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly.

"The sad thing is that we can fix this," Mark Kelly said. Congresswoman Giffords' message to Congress was simple: "The nation's counting on you." The argument that "now is not the time" to discuss gun safety is, on it's face, ridiculous. But more importantly, if Congresswoman Giffords and Mark Kelly think we should be talking about this right now, I'm going to defer to their judgment. They called for action today.

We should be talking about an assault weapons ban and magazine capacity limits and universal background checks. We should be talking about anything that could stop this madness. We should be trying to do something.

As much as my brain is telling me that nothing will change, and as much as my optimism is waning, I can't accept that this is just how it has to be. This can't keep happening. We have to do something about it.

Lin-Manuel Miranda had some ideas for what each of us could do about it -- and it starts with taking care of ourselves and each other so we can come back and be ready to work towards and fight for and demand that things get better.

"You can also put down your phone or close your computer and take a walk. That's what I just did. We need you for the long haul. We need you." - Lin-Manuel Miranda