This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.
~ Walt Whitman
In the United States the legacy of settler colonialism can be seen in the endless wars of aggression and occupations; the trillions spent on war machinery, military bases, and personnel instead of social services and quality public education; the gross profits of corporations, each of which has greater resources and funds than more than half the countries in the world yet pay minimal taxes and provide few jobs for US citizens; the repression of generation after generation of activists who seek to change the system; the incarceration of the poor, particularly descendants of enslaved Africans; the individualism, carefully inculcated, that on the one hand produces self-blame for personal failure and on the other exalts ruthless dog-eat-dog competition for possible success, even though it rarely results; and high rates of suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism, sexual violence against women and children, homelessness, dropping out of school, and gun violence.
~ Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Have we all had enough yet? Or are we waiting for something more? I wondered that last week after the mass shootings in Buffalo and now I am wondering it again this week after 19 children (and 2 teachers) were killed in Uvalde, Texas. When is enough really enough? How many more children, women, and BIPOC have to die before we reach that magic number of Enough? This is not meant to be a rhetorical or a sarcastic question. I honestly want to know. Maybe the answer is that there will never be Enough. Maybe the answer is that we place little or no value on life when compared to the value we place on the right to bear arms.
It’s not just children, women, and BIPOC, you know. How about all those white folks killed and injured in Vegas in 2017? I don’t suppose that was enough, either.
I’m not at all sure why millions of us aren’t already camped out on the steps of the Capitol demanding change. Not a march, but an occupy. Stay until the wastrels on the Hill do their fucking jobs. Frankly, I’m not sure even that would work. I’m beginning to think the only possible solution is to stop contributing to the corporations that are supporting the violence and the politicians. Not a small boycott of a couple of companies, but a sort of general strike. Stop spending money on anything other than absolute necessities (and get those locally when you can). Cut off the profits and see what happens. The way things are going, the economy might be tanking anyhow. Maybe we can get something out of it before that happens.
Of course it’s easy for me to say/write. It’s also privileged of me in many ways. There are many, many people out there who are barely making ends meet. They are already not spending money on anything other than absolute necessities. We would need to follow the example of the farmers’ strike in India (or other general strikes) in which the communities come together to support each other (so that those who have can support those who have not).
I don’t have the wherewithal to organize such a massive undertaking. I don’t even know if it would be possible to do in this country.
I’ve been thinking about buying a new camera. My current camera and lenses are not working well, and require a lot of fiddling to get the photos to come out halfway decent so that I can do the rest of the fixing via Photoshop. No matter. I’m not going to buy the camera. The money is there, but it would be better spent if I donate to groups that are doing the work that is important to me. The only question now is whether it would be best to spread the money across several groups or split it between two.
It’s a start. Only a start. But I have to start somewhere.
I also think it’s time I put my body out there. What is the point of living a longer life if I’m not going to do whatever I can to make this a safer place for my grandchildren, their children, and their children’s children? What is the point of living this longer life just sitting at home, keeping myself safe? What kind of ancestor will I be if I don’t do something?
I don’t know what my future actions will be. I’m looking into it, inward and outward. This weekend will be spent with a family member who could use some help after having had surgery a a couple of weeks ago. After that, I’m going to see what I can do, be where maybe I can help make some kind of difference.
Because I’ve had Enough. Maybe you have had Enough, too?
The weeks after these shootings have a familiar pattern: news outlets describe the shooter; law enforcement searches for a “motive.” The immediate motive behind such shootings is usually hatred of people’s skin tone, hatred of religious differences, hatred of classmates, loose hatred in an unstable mind. But the motive behind the motive is gun profiteering. Behind the sense of safety & power your guns give you—& what manipulates you into rejecting commonsense limitations on weapons—is corporate money made at the expense of the safety of your children. You who hate government, have been made fools of.
~ Brenda Hillman, Dear American Gun Owner: When is Enough?