Discover more from Second Breakfast
Devastation by Gun Violence
My rambling, inconclusive thoughts after another mass shooting in America.
Hello! Spring is here, and it’s glorious.
This week’s edition is landing a few days later than it normally does. Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t. But between several very long work days, a series of grim and heartbreaking news headlines, and that annoying scratchy throat, dull headache feeling that could leave you either plummeting into the abyss of a two-week head cold or narrowly avoiding calamity, I had neither the energy nor the brain space to think coherent thoughts, let alone write them.
I’m still not sure I do.
But I love this little space on the Internet, and I’m trying to remind myself that I don’t have to show up with the most cohesive thoughts, the most beautiful prose, or a perfectly polished persona. Chasing perfection or the perception of perfection is tempting, but it’s boring and quite frankly, unrealistic. (This is your annual reminder that if someone in your life seems like they have it all figured out, they don’t. We’re all just making it up as we go along—me included!)
As Aaron rightly pointed out when I fretted about not sending Second Breakfast on time, I ultimately write this newsletter for fun. And for me. Part of the beauty of writing it—perhaps the whole point of it—is showing up as my authentic self, even when I feel like a blob. I’m learning to like blob Elizabeth as much as I like polished Elizabeth. I don’t write because I already have everything figured out, I write because I want to figure it out. Or as the late, great Joan Didion wrote, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”
If you’re reading this but haven’t subscribed yet, come join us. I promise I don’t bite!
Part of why it’s hard to find words this week is because of the heartbreaking and horrifying tragedy that occurred in Nashville this week.
Three nine-year olds: gone.
Three adults: gone.
I am devastated for their families, for their friends, for their communities. And I’m painfully aware that expressing devastation in my random little newsletter falls so short given the gravity of the situation. But devastated is how I feel, and how I imagine a lot of us feel when we see news like this.
I can’t even fathom what it’s like to walk into your 9-year-old’s bedroom and know that they will never sleep in their bed again.
Or what it’s like to realize the husband or wife or mom or dad you just saw that morning isn’t coming home this afternoon, or any afternoon thereafter, for the rest of your life.
Or what it’s like to pick up your ringing phone and learn that your friend or neighbor was gunned down while going about their lives.
And how when they were alive, maybe you never really told them how much they meant to you.
I think about that after every mass shooting—and really any instance of gun violence. So many lives extinguished. So many lives irreparably changed forever. All because the person behind the trigger chose to pull, and because they live in a culture that in some part encourages them to pull.
I’m also angry.
That we live in a country run by certain politicians who offer “thoughts and prayers” and then actively take money from the largest pro-gun lobbying group in the country and refuse to pass any sort of common sense gun legislation.
That we live in a country in which that same lobbying group, in the ten years since the Sandy Hook shooting (where 26 people were killed, including 20 six- and seven-year-olds), spent more than $100 million to elect Republicans who they could trust to block gun control measures.
That we live in a country where there have been more mass shootings than actual days this year. 130 mass shootings in 90 days.
That we live in a country where guns are the leading cause of death among kids and teens.
That we live in a country where despite this fact, people will still go to the ends of the earth to defend ludicrous and nonsensical gun privileges for people who should be nowhere near a weapon in the first place.
That we live in a country where entire generations have experienced and will continue to experience incomprehensible levels of trauma because of the mass shootings that have ripped through so many of our communities.
I also hate how every time I see a news alert about a mass shooting—which feels so frequent these days—I am shocked, shook, yet at the same time, I’m not shocked at all, because our country consistently, predictably fails at preventing them from happening. It seems like we’ve all become numb to these occurrences, and I don’t want us to be.
Yet what can any of us say that doesn’t feel like a platitude, or a seemingly empty display of care and concern? More importantly, what else can we do in addition to voting, supporting organizations like this one, and taking the time to understand the issues around us and why they happen?
It’s a daily struggle to stay informed and engaged when the news is this somber and when we have so many other things, sometimes Very Hard Things, going on in our lives. But I try to remind myself that it’s so important not to become numb to situations of injustice. So many people in power benefit from the masses staying uninformed and unengaged, and why should we give them that power?
As much as I would love to provide a laundry list of solutions and positive reminders about how there’s still so much progress happening in our country (there is!), today is not that day. I don’t have any smart conclusions or answers, but I wanted to hold space for the deep grief that gun violence has planted across our nation. Because showing up genuinely, for me, means talking about the hard and troubling stuff, too. And hopefully encouraging others to do the same.
Thanks for sticking with me today.
Sending you a hug and wishing you a very mighty second breakfast on this Friday,