I can’t stop thinking about the talk I had with my friend Teddy the other day, and it’s even closer to the front of my mind after I read Jenna’s post today, something that basically ripped my heart out and stomped on it and then shoved it back into dripping chest.
I was talking to Teddy the other day about gun violence in America, and the subject of violent behavior in general. We went back in forth, me being the hopeful one and him being the one who kept shaking his head, stuck in his belief that things can never change or get better. An assault weapons ban, while wise and necessary, will enrage the NRA and far right. People are scared, Teddy says, that the government wants to take our guns away.
I hate guns, I am just going to say it. I have considered learning to shoot one, not because I ever intend to buy one and use it for self defense or hunting, but because A.) I want to be prepared for the zombie apocalypse, and 2.) I want to know what it feels like to shoot a gun so that I can write about it. But still, I haven’t asked one of my MANY friends who shoot to take me to a range, because I just hate guns. I hate them. When I see police officers, when I have to be close to them, my anxiety spikes up just from being in the presence of their guns. I know that they are supposed to be for protection, but all my anxiety riddled paranoid mind can think of is what if a crazy person ran up and snatched this gun from the cop’s hip and shoots me?
It was a long conversation, and though Teddy and I pretty much disagreed on everything when it came to guns and violence, we did come to one mutual conclusion: we can’t protect ourselves. No one can protect themselves. An assault weapons ban, or even banning guns entirely and making criminals of those who continue to carry them, none of those things will protect us or our children. Every effort we take to protect ourselves is an illusion erected to give us all a false sense of security. We are not safe.
Right now I’m sitting on my bed in my room, and a minute from now the gas line could blow, and poof. I could drive as safe possible, but a jackknifed truck could catch me on the highway and end me tonight. I could have a stroke.
I could to everything in my power to protect Elise and make sure she lives a safe and healthy life. I could feed her healthy foods and make sure she is always properly buckled and having regular checkups with her pediatrician. I can hold her hand when we walk down the street and lock the doors before we go to sleep at night. But she could go to school in the morning, locked down in her safe elementary building, and a meteorite could streak out of the sky and incinerate her building before she even knows what hits her.
(Yes, in case you were wondering, horrifying daydreams are one of the ways my anxiety tends to manifest itself.)
The point is, there are some things we just can’t control and we need to accept that. If we don’t accept it, if we let it eat away at us day after day, THE FEAR that comes with having children and constant worrying about them will take us over and make us into miserable people with horrible lives.
We aren’t safe. There are some things we just can’t protect ourselves and each other from. WE ARE ALL OF US GOING TO DIE. So?
I don’t see any other feasible option. I’m tired of being unnecessarily legit afraid of things that only might happen and probably never will. It’s exhausting. I just want to remember every day that life is short, and there needs to be more hugging before the end.