A TIME TO ACT– FOR OUR CHILDREN by Mitchell R. Grosky
Thoughts and prayers to all those families impacted by the abhorrent actions of the lone gunman in Florida yesterday. As many have said, however, (and I strongly agree) much more needs to be done than thoughts and prayers. Far too often, as you doubtless know, thoughts and prayers lead to discussion on facebook and twitter and cries of “We have to do something” or “The System is broken” or “We need to provide more help to the mentally ill” or “We need to eliminate assault weapons” or “How many more deaths will it take before we see action?” Too often we also hear from others these palliative bromides: “We stand with you” or “We are here for you” or “We feel your pain.” From some we hear ad nauseum “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” or “The answer is not more gun laws” or “Now is not the time to discuss gun control; Now is the time to pray” or “This is horrific (the word that accompanies all these incidents) but the second amendment protects our right to bear arms!” And then after all that discussion, inevitably Congress does nothing and time goes by and people forget until the next school shooting when the cycle starts over again: tears . . . and thoughts and prayers . . . and lamenting . . . and discussion. . . and inaction . . . and forgetting again, ad infinitum.
SO DO WE KEEP LOSING OUR CHILDREN TO REPEATED HEINOUS, SENSELESS GUN VIOLENCE, OR IS THERE ANY SOLUTION?
I don’t have all the answers; none of us does. And I am frankly very discouraged. Like so many of you, I try to focus on the positive in our society. I am administrator of eight different facebook pages that are designed to—in my own small way—make the world a little better: my personal facebook page, my Celebrating Schools facebook page, my Mitchell R. Grosky Photography facebook page, my Mitch Grosky Athol Community facebook page, my Mitch Grosky for Schools facebook page, my Really Beautiful Music Facebook page, my World View With Mitchell Grosky Facebook page, and my Athol Democratic Town Committee Facebook page. I also am an administrator or co-administrator to several other pages, as well. I try to find ways to better our community through my work on the school committee, though attending and participating in political conventions, through the Athol Lions, through my photography, and in many other ways. This is not special in any way; so many of you do the very same in giving your time and energy and efforts to worthy causes to improve the world and our small piece of it in this community.
But now I’m tired . . . and I’m frustrated. . .because so many good people whom I know are doing their best to improve the world, yet these depraved and atrocious acts keep happening –over and over and over again. I read in the Washington Post that “Beginning with Columbine 19 years ago, more than 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus, according to a Washington Post analysis of online archives, state and federal enrollment figures, and news stories. That doesn’t count dozens of suicides, accidents and after-school assaults that have also exposed children to gunfire.” Imagine the emotional impact on these children, on their families and friends! Think of all those children who have been shot and killed or maimed. Think of how that pain goes on and on! As I heard one commentator say, “We are failing our children.” Melissa Falkowski, a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, used the same words in an interview. She hid with 19 students in a closet during the shooting there, and all of them made it out safely. She told TODAY that she put her own feelings aside to try to keep her students calm: “I just did my job.” She too used those same words: We (as a country) are failing our children; we’re not keeping them safe.”
Thoughts and prayers are good; our children and our families need us to care and to offer prayers and support. But………and this is all important……..SO MUCH MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE. Take five respected Democrats and five respected Republicans (yes, those entities DO exist) and sit them down in a room for 10 hours a day for a week and have them hammer out 10 concrete ways that we can lessen the chances of these monstrous acts from continuing to happen, and to lessen the injuries and deaths if they do (rarely) happen. Decide how we can prevent those who take thousands or hundreds of thousands from the NRA—how we can prevent them from making decisions that impact the lives and the safety of our children in school. Or draft legislation that stops the intensive lobbying and campaign contributions from organizations like the NRA that have an inordinate (some would say obscene) amount of influence on the democratic process. Remove weapons of war from the hands of our citizens; those AR-15’s and AK-47’s are NOT what our founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the second amendment to the constitution, guaranteeing our citizens the right to bear arms. Improve treatment for the mentally ill and the maladjusted. If that takes a huge influx of money, then that’s worth whatever it takes. And people whom we elect to lead, NEED TO LEAD—from senators to congressmen and women to the President. This is one of the most important issues of our times, and hardly ANYTHING has been done! And the incidents keep happening and the list of victims—the list of children who are victims—just keeps growing.
Now is the time for action. Please let your leaders know how you feel, and please join me in this fight FOR our children.