Though I was in New York when the shootings in Boulder took place, within hours I posted a response from our church. None of our friends had died, though one of our co-pastors grew up in the neighborhood, and was in the parking lot just two hours before the shooting began. Another friend was there barely an hour before. Another acquaintance was a friend of the police officer who was killed. So many of these horrific tragedies have occurred that I don’t know what to write anymore, even when it hits close to home. The feelings are almost too overwhelming to name – anger, fear, frustration, sadness, resolve, disbelief, fury, resignation.
When events like this take place, I tend to follow my feelings. Strong feelings arose on the day after the shooting, when I was watching the debate on the Senate floor. Ted Cruz, someone I already have a difficult time suffering, was railing in his full volume cadence, saying guns are not the problem. Then he said he would not apologize for offering thoughts and prayers, because prayers are important.
Prayers are important. I have been praying that the people of Texas would turn out Ted Cruz ever since he arrived in the Senate. I have been praying for a clear majority in Congress who would enact a ban on assault weapons like the one used by yet another angry young man. We are the only nation in the world that has to deal with regular mass shootings, and the pure and simple reason is because politicians are afraid of the NRA and its constituents.
I have been praying that people would believe the Democrats who say we have no intention of taking away your guns. We just need to ban weapons of war. We had a ban on assault weapons in Boulder, but just a few weeks before the shooting, a district judge overturned the law as unconstitutional, a decision celebrated by the NRA. The vast majority of Americans want a ban on assault weapons. It’s enough to make me want to move to a right-leaning state and run for Congress. I want to do something that will actually make a difference.
That is one of the most frustrating parts of the shootings in Atlanta and Boulder. The majority of us have been rendered powerless on this important subject, while people like Ted Cruz virtually guarantee that thousands more Americans will be killed by deranged men.
I did a TED Talk a year and a half ago in which one of the other speakers was a father whose son who was killed in the Aurora theater shooting. His talk was simple. Never mention the name of the killer, he said. Refuse to give them the notoriety they crave. If we can’t get rid of guns, maybe we can get rid of the endless news stories about the men who perpetrate such atrocities.
When the Parkland shooting occurred, Donald Trump had to be given a note prompting him to show empathy when he met with families who had lost children. One of the students who spoke with Trump that day spoke eloquently of the need for gun reform. Trump sat there emotionless. That young man is now a college student, and in an interview on Monday evening he said when he marries and has children, he will not raise them in the United States. He will go somewhere his children can be safe.
I am trying to find hope, for without hope we cannot move forward. Despair is concrete to the soul. After I returned home I went with a friend to the memorial set up against the temporary fencing that surrounds the King Sooper’s. It was a gray and rainy day, pretty unusual for Colorado, but it felt appropriate. I read the notes and posters and looked at the beautiful flowers covering every inch of the fence. There were at least one hundred other people there. I looked at the sad eyes above their facemasks, and noticed their knuckles, white as they held tightly to the hands of loved ones. In just four days, thousands of people had come to show solidarity and pay their respects. One television reporter talked of two families who lost loved ones and were encouraged and soothed by the crowds and their expressions of love, respect, and devotion.
My trip to the site was cathartic. I was reminded that most people are good, thoughtful, and kind. They want to make a difference. They want to make sure evil is not the final word. They want compassion to prevail. My friend and I went into a couple of shops on the perimeter of the fencing, and purchased a few items, wanting to support the business owners whose stores are in the shadow of the sadness.
You cannot remain silent in the presence of evil. I will speak about the senseless tragedy at the beginning of our church service tomorrow. I do not yet know what I will say, because words are never enough when your heart is worn and surrounded by sorrow. But I will speak words of hope, because hope is the only thing stronger than fear.
5 thoughts on “Boulder Strong”
I live outside of Denver, on the Southern side. While all mass shootings disturb me greatly, when it’s in our own backyard, it becomes a heavy, grievious coat that doesn’t come off for a long time.
To blame one Congress person is fruitless but then again, even with a majority of Democrats in office, it has been practically the same in getting any type of gun law reform accomplished. A block on an assault weapons ban in Colorado was done by a District Judge (Andrew Hartman) that was appointed by, at the time Democratic Governor Hickenlooper. I find it interesting that I had to do some minor detective work to even find out who this judge was because the media doesn’t seem to be interested in telling its readers who he is and what party affiliate he has. I haven’t found an article about the Boulder shooting that names this judge whose decision was to overturn a block on possession, sale or transfer of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.
Our community has come together to grieve over this senseless loss. All people in this community as well as our country. So, to put the burden of responsibility of gun control onto the community is pointless. These laws must come from a government that is united in serving the people and what the people want; dare I say, NEED.
It is easy to make a blanket statement that these horrible acts of mass shootings are done by white men. Yes, the majority of them are. However, the Boulder shooter is of Syrian decent. The Virginia Tech College shooter was Asian. In fact, since 1982, just under half of the shooters were not Caucasian. (https://www.statista.com/statistics/476456/mass-shootings-in-the-us-by-shooter-s-race/)
Broad sweeping generalizations, finger pointing, prayers and thoughts are not going to make the changes we need in stopping mass murders in the US; Congress people who represent what their constituents want will be the ones to make the change happen.
This one feels too close because of you and all of my friends in the area. Parkland felt close because I held Juaquin Oliver’s name up at a tribute demonstration in my hometown. A demonstration in which we were far outnumbered by armed “counter-protesters.” That is when I really understood the magnitude of the problem.
They are right. The problem isn’t the guns. The problem is what is in the hearts of the people who carry them. That “us against them” fear that they insist on living with is the poison they have picked. That poison is reinforced within them everywhere they go. At church, in the news, in the political candidates they choose, based on fake news, they aggressively pass on the lies they have learned and the fear they have had for people who are not like them. It is fear that is driving the whole pile of nonsense.
The only way I have ever discovered to fight fear is to present facts. Maybe it’s my 8 enneagram? At any rate, I stay frustrated with most of the people who live around me, including the Democrats, because they too are paralyzed by fear. This last election scared us silly of our own neighbors. When we heard the First Lady was coming to our town we were hopeful but anxious. Then we started seeing the threats to her online from our neighbors. We reported several to the FBI. We were actually relieved when she canceled the trip.
I say all this about my small town in blood-red Alabama because I can’t imagine that my neighbors are any different than the people in other Republican states. I know you would not be safe here. My non-binary child was not safe here. They are much safer in Seattle, though it means I only see them every few years. Alabama also passed an identical voter suppression bill as Georgia, and one-upped them with a horrendous transphobic bill. No trans people should ever come to a state like Alabama until this garbage is overruled. So, while admirable, your notion to move to a Red state would not be useful, I am afraid. Please run for a national office so I can vote for you. I am thinking Harris/Williams 2024?
In the meantime, old cis white and black women are joining forces slowly in Alabama to make the kind of changes we are seeing in Georgia. It is taking us longer because our state Democrat Party is a mess. We need help from the National Democratic Party. I suppose we are waiting our turn?
That is why I think gun control has to come from the national level. The whole notion of “states rights” is leftover from slavery that still holds us back. I just can’t wrap my head around people who think those invisible state lines constitute some kind of barrier. We can see how well that worked out with Covid. Or with the kid who crossed state lines to kill 2 people in Kenosha.
I am looking forward to hearing your message tomorrow. I would love to hear something that brings me renewed hope because frankly, the old warrior in me is getting pretty tired.
I am so very grateful for all you offer the world. Even your anger is a blessing. How DO you do that?
Dee, thank you for your beautiful, heartfelt words. Also Paula. Hope.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Your message on here really appealed to my emotions. You have a gift for writing that touches the deepest part of the soul. Thank you for being a person who really cares for others.
That is so sad that our former present had to receive a prompt to show some empathy. I doubt he is able to know how. I can remember our four other living ex-presidents showing empathy and sometimes with tears also.
Thank you so much for this, Paula.