Physician, Heal Thyself

I was on vacation in the Texas panhandle when our nation experienced two mass shootings in two very different parts of the country.

From CNN:

  • Two shootings: At least 31 people were killed over the weekend in mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.
  • El Paso: 22 people were killed in El Paso after a mass shooting on Saturday. Police said they found an anti-immigrant document espousing white nationalist and racist views, which they believe was written by the suspect. He may face hate crime charges in addition to capital murder charges.
  • Dayton: Another nine people were killed in a shooting in the Oregon District of Dayton, Ohio. The suspect in that shooting is dead.

Meanwhile, Studly Doright and I were involved in family fun at a reunion–grandkid watching, overeating, swimming, laughing, hugging, playing, storytelling. As news of the shootings came through we absorbed the generalities and continued with our event. My heart was heavy, but there was nothing any of us could do at that time except love our own families and watch over each other. Now that I’m home, I have time to process the information, and I’m furious.

As with every mass shooting in this country, politicians offer thoughts and prayers, yet nothing meaningful gets done to prevent the next shooting, or the one after that. In many ways it seems that some members of our current administration have encouraged such violence.

In May of this year, at a political rally, the current POTUS asked the Florida audience how to stop migrants from entering the country.

“How do you stop these people? You can’t, there’s,”–Trump paused as an attendee shouted, “Shoot them!”

Trump smirked and said, “That’s only in the panhandle you can get away with that statement.” The crowd cheered wildly for 10 seconds before Trump continued his speech.

I live in the Florida panhandle. That kind of talk is not acceptable even here, but our Divider-in-Chief encourages it and applauds it. He has set the tone, and it is one of violence and hatred of those who are not white “Christians”.

Now, in the wake of the shootings, many Republicans are scrambling to cover all of their familiar talking points.

1) Blame the video games! As if kids in the U.S. are the only ones who play violent video games.

2) Blame mental illness! So only the U.S. has a population suffering from some form of mental illness? And while mental illness might play a role in these heinous acts, in 2017 trump rolled back an Obama-era regulation that made it more difficult for people with mental illness to purchase guns. Yes, trump green lighted gun ownership for those who might be prone to violence.

3) Blame gays! A few crazy people believe that homosexuality is to blame for our gun violence problem. Of course these people also believe homosexuality causes earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and tornadoes.

4) It’s not the gun’s fault! Well, maybe guns don’t kill people, people kill people, but easy access to guns sure makes it easier for them to do so.

5) It’s because we can’t pray in school! Seriously? God, as I understand it, is omnipresent. I’m not sure any of us can keep such a deity out of any location. And, as the old saying goes, as long as there are tests, there’ll be prayer in school.

5) If someone wants to kill, they’ll find some other way if guns aren’t available. Again, guns are way too easy to attain in this country. Bombs? Not so much. Knives? Easy to come by, but it’s difficult to achieve the body count that guns provide. And let’s face it, it’s a huge body count these killers (overwhelmingly white and male) are aiming for. Plus, killing with a knife is up close work. These mass shooters don’t want to dirty their hands, and a gun allows them to kill indiscriminately from a distance. It’s an impersonal act that reaps huge results.

The GOP is now urging us to come together, but most Republican congressmen and women aren’t willing to jeopardize their good standing with the National Rifle Association by enacting meaningful gun control legislation. It’s difficult to “come together” with people who are okay with gun violence as long as the NRA is lining their pockets.

I am a gun owner. I enjoy occasionally taking target practice. No one is coming for all of our guns, but there must be change. We are the only first world country that has mass shootings on an almost weekly basis.

Peace, people.

A Death in the Family

She lived a good life
Protected and nurtured us
Now lost forever

Yet birds keep flying
The sun continues to shine
Heedless of her death


Our grief is immense
Life, though, continues apace
While this old world turns


I’ve been asked repeatedly today how I feel about Trump winning the election. Truthfully I feel like there has been a death in my immediate family. Ultimately I know we will be alright, but right now I’m experiencing a deep grief.

I spent a sleepless night in which my thoughts circled relentlessly like a dog chasing its tail, and I recalled reading Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s book, On Death and Dying, in which she introduced the five stages of grief:

  1. denial, 
  2. anger, 
  3. bargaining, 
  4. depression, and 
  5. acceptance

From my psychiatry courses in college (where a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing) I remember that one can cycle through these stages in a variety of ways unique to each individual. 

I ran through denial pretty quickly. The numbers were there. And while it was heartening to note that Hillary won the popular vote, Trump undeniably took the electoral college votes. 

Anger is my current companion. I’m not angry at Trump or his supporters so much as I’m angry at their willful ignorance. They don’t care that he has no real plans to implement his policies. They like him because he’s not a career politician, and he isn’t politically correct. 

I’m angry at the registered voters who just didn’t show up. I’m angry at those who used their votes to protest by voting for non-viable candidates. I’m angry at the subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle voter suppression tactics that were employed in several states.

I can’t imagine there’ll be much bargaining involved, but depression is anger’s little sister and I’m going to do everything in my power to avoid going down that rabbit hole. Today I smiled at everyone I saw and hugged a woman at work who supported Trump. Little steps.

Acceptance? That’s going to take awhile. But I won’t be like those conservatives who disrespected President Obama and actively rooted for his failure these past eight years. I’m going to support Trump as our president while continuing to fight for the rights of all those living in our country: health care, reproductive rights, racial and gender equality, etc. 

I know other bloggers have addressed this much more eloquently than I, but I think the healing starts when we lay it all on the line. This piece was part of my healing process. Maybe it will help someone else along the way.

Peace, people.

Broken People

we are
broken
each one
of us
from the
inside
(no matter
how beautiful,
or talented,
or together
we pretend
to be)
there are
cracks,
porcelain
fine,

criss-
crossed
etchings
across our
souls.

 

Kintsukuroi, the art of repairing broken pottery by pouring molten gold or silver into the cracks.
 

we are
whole
each one
of us
on the
inside
(no matter
how battered,
or discouraged,
or frightened
life has
made us)
there are
gold shot
veins of
strength,
defying
all odds
celebrating
our souls’
survival.

Polarized

her tightly pinched lips
sickly white from forced pressure
pushing love away.

giggles erupting
uncontained mirth engulfing
overtaking us.

no smiles found her eyes
wary, watchful orbs untouched
by life’s happiness.

prayers heard solemnly
lovingly tucked in warm beds
sweet dreams little ones.

slippered feet silenced
anxious to avoid conflict
too quiet children.

holding on tightly
waltzing in circles of joy
her love unrestrained.

  

  
Peace, people!