There are some things I intended to share here today, but they have been washed away since the massacre in Connecticut on Friday. Like you, my heart is raw and aching. I am struggling to process this specific event while seeing it in the context of what has been happening in this country on a regular basis.
On a regular basis.
I know that no one comes to this site for my political viewpoint and I am not someone who has any need to share my politics publicly, but this is not politics and I cannot move forward until I say my piece.
What kind of culture do we want to create?
When I was growing up, kids weren’t required to wear seatbelts, it was perfectly legal to smoke on airplanes, to drive drunk and to toss garbage out the window. I personally witnessed all those things. One night, when I was seven, my father, my two brothers and me were driving across the bridge over the resevoir near where we lived. The car in front of ours was slammed by a drunk driver coming down the wrong side of the road. There was a family of four in that car. The mother and daughter were killed.
That incident was just one of tens of thousands and it might have continued on like that, one personal tragedy after another if a group of women had not banded together to address the problem collectively. In 1980, a woman who had lost her child “inspired a handful of grieving, determined mothers to join in the fight. Though united in cause, they had no office, no money and no clout.
In fact, all they had was sorrow, pluck and a picture of a pretty, 13-year-old girl killed by a drunk driver. Yet they initiated one of the great grassroots successes in american history. They were as their name suggests: MaDD. As their fledgling organization grew, they stood toe to toe with politicians who knew the stats but did not act. They took on a powerful industry that put profit over safety. They challenged a society that viewed drinking and driving as acceptable—even laughable. And they caused a visceral reaction. The getting there wasn’t easy. It was tough. It was messy. And it was fraught with obstacles. Yet MaDD proved, time and time again, that it would not be bullied or derailed. In fact, MaDD blazed a trail that other organizations have since followed. They made hard, cold statistics come to life.They did not just say that drunk driving killed thousands and injured millions. They held up photographs—and described every nuance of their loved ones’ lives—to prove it. As a result, a mountain of traffic safety and victims’ rights legislation has been passed. annual alcohol-related traffic fatalities have dropped from an estimated 30,000 in 1980 to fewer than 17,000 today. And, perhaps most important, society no longer views drunk driving as acceptable.”
(from MADD history)
That was only 32 years ago. And look at how our culture reflects that change as well as the public safety people fighting against the tobacco industry have secured for us. We have absorbed it. We live by it. You wouldn’t think of putting your child in the car without fastening her seatbelt. You fully expect that no one would smoke on a plane or light up next to you in a restaurant. People still buy alcohol and cigarettes. People still drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes. The difference is that we now have laws that are actively enforced.
We can change our culture. We have done it before. We can do it again.
Gun regulation in this country must be strict and uncompromising.
I believe it is possible. I am holding the vision that these changes come into being swiftly, fiercely.