Are we done in Newtown?

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I posted this to a pagan mailing list to which I subscribe this morning:

I would like to respectfully and loving suggest that we consider where our donations should be going in order to truly support the victims of ALL the gun homicides in our nation. It sounds like Newtown will be swimming in teddy bears for years to come.  Cute, but not actually helpful in any comprehensive sense.  If you still have the urge to act on this issue, please consider donations of goods or funds or talents to:  your local domestic violence shelters and intervention  programs; your local gang prevention/ high risk teen intervention programs; or the advocacy group of your choice targeting issue such as mental health treatment parity, supportive outreach to single mothers, or gun control.  Look for organizations that seem to avoid demonizing those with whom they disagree, as that approach is unlikely to meet success and is clearly part of the problem in this situation.  Offer your kindness where it seems it will make a meaningful impact.  Do it in the name of the Newtown children, or do it in the name of the thousands of nonwhite nonaffluent forgotten victims who are getting killed all the time with little media fanfare.  Just please do what you can, rather than letting the surfeit in Newtown convince you that this issue has been handled.

This post I’m writing now elaborates on the last point, about not letting ourselves think the situation has been handled.

I am very touched to see the flood of material and moral support offered to the town of Newtown CT by the world community.  This kind of connection and kindness is where our hope lies for a shift to the positive growth of the next bak’tun.

I fear that the announcement that Newtown cannot handle anymore donations will cause people in our country to turn away from dealing with all the issues that we have been discussing since this massacre.  Remember, we are the ones who failed to help Haiti beyond a few short weeks post-earthquake because they fell off the media radar.  And we failed to even notice their renewed distress during the recent Hurricane, presumably because if a disaster hits us directly, the rest of the world’s devastation just doesn’t matter as much.  Inundated with unimportant stories presented with great fanfare , we are fooled into thinking they are important. We worry about the Kardashe-what sister’s lip enhancements.  We watch consumerism run amok with “news” coverage of “black Friday” insanity.  We worry about the royal babies and which public figures are secretly gay (gee, why would they hide that?  but I digress….).

It’s just too easy to see the ordinary American getting a warm fuzzy feeling about Newtown because of all this sending of memorial donations and teddy bears and decorations to change the look of the school.  And then going back to watching the tube, until instructed by the media to get “involved” in a new crisis.

We need people to stay engaged on this one.  We need to actually deal with the multiple contributing problems that result in our status as the disaffected-and-unstable-young-white-man-mass-murderer capital of the world, as well as the developed world’s leader in the more conventional single-victim gun murder.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) will introduce a new assault weapons ban in January, a more comprehensive ban that includes limits on the capacity of magazines and closes some loopholes.  It would also seek to track the guns sold during the post-expiration period from 2004 to present, and possibly to recover them from the owners (a buyback program, no storm troopers “takin’ mah gyuns” the way the Tea Partiers seem to fear).  (My source about this bill is the Senator’s website as well as multiple media outlets in the US, all online).

I find it very disturbing that this is the only substantive move made by anyone yet to address these issues.  Why aren’t there 8 different gun control proposals out there so that there could be meaningful discussion representing multiple approaches to the problem, resulting in an effective and practical law that achieves broad support?  Why aren’t we hearing about how states are going to tool up to provide comprehensive family support programs for at risk people, how they are going to stop blocking the development of mental health coverage parity?

For all the people I’ve discussed these issues with on-line, I am aware of only 4, beside myself, who have done more than discuss amongst ourselves – who have written emails/letters, or called, legislators on these issues.  Who’ve chosen to donate resources to organizations such as I described up above.   If so few of us act like this is important enough to stick with until we’ve fixed it, it won’t get fixed.  And the next time it happens, the public will again ask how this could have been prevented, the same way we have asked ourselves that again and again, increasingly frequently, over the past 20 years.  Please, let’s not go through that ever again. Honor all victims of violence in our land by preventing the otherwise inevitable similar future tragedies.  Please help, please keep this on your priority list.

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