|Four Men Aiming Guns—Cheyenne drawing from the Maffet Ledger, Oklahoma, circa 1880 (Metropolitan Museum of Art)|
Is it me? The giddy optimist secretly curled up inside and hidden within my perpetually-disappointed, curmudgeonly shell. Or does the agonized cry of helplessness following the massacre of 17 students and teachers Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. feel a little different? A little less helpless?
It certainly is different, because of the immediate, active role the surviving students took in pushing back against the usual Republican palms-to-the-sky shrug and muddled, vague talk about mental illness and it being continually too soon to talk about anything substantive. That felt different. Perhaps significant.
Too soon to tell, of course. And if history is any judge, we cry and fulminate, shake our fists to the sky, ask why God why, then revert to form.
Maybe the habit of opposing the horrors of the administration of Donald Trump ($30 million from the gun lobby) and the venalities of Marco Rubio ($3.3 million) and Mitch McConnell ($1.25 million) and the rest have made apathy a little less acceptable.
Maybe the hollowness of the nothing-we-do-will-be-1oo-percent-effective-so-let's-do-nothing argument rings extra hollow. Maybe people are realizing they don't apply that non-logic to anything else, alas. (No wall across the Southern border will keep out all illegal immigrants so lets not waste money building it).
Maybe we've finally realized that unless we mobilize we are never, ever going to stop this. And just as it has happened again and again, it will happen again and again. And again. And again.
Maybe we're okay with that. We've vowed change and allowed nothing to happen before. There is always Newtown, and all the rest, mute testimony to our failure and inertia. The Republicans not only do nothing but get re-elected on a clear platform of never doing anything, no matter what. The solution to guns is always more guns, as brilliantly parodied in that Onion piece about gorilla sales skyrocketing after a spate of gorilla attacks.
The truth is clear. Other countries don't go through this. Just us. Special America. The gun manufacturers have sold this lie, that guns are needed to stave off government overreach and raging criminals, even while the government contracts and crime falls, generally, to historic low levels.
What was it Lord Byron wrote?
And the commencement of atonement isMany Americans know it is necessary. Big time. Most of us do, really. But is that enough? I am not so naive as to think any of this will be easy. But where we stand is all so clear: the Republicans are paid agents of the enormously-profitable gun industry, and they have sold our children's lives, and will continue to do so until somebody stops them. Until America rises up and stops them. Maybe now is the time.
The sense of its necessity.