Yesterday my mother commented to me, “Daniel is at such a wonderful age!” He’s almost 9 ½. It’s an age of possibility and wonder – the kind of wonder which led him to say a few months ago, “how come there were so many things before my lifetime that I didn’t even know about?” Daniel is in 3rd grade right now. A few months younger than the kids who were killed in yesterday’s tragedy.
I wasn’t actually afraid to send him to school today. I don’t know why. I tend to be like that. Not afraid to go downtown in Jerusalem during a season of terror attacks. Not afraid to stand on the bima after a synagogue shooting. Not afraid in my conscious mind.
Consciously, I try to be afraid of only the things that are more statistically likely to impact me. And the things that I might be able to prevent from harming me with changes to my behavior. Things like germs. And fascism.
Most likely I’m not feeling afraid because I am just shut down after so many mass shootings. Shootings which only paused when the whole f-ing world shut down during the first months of the pandemic for the sake of an even bigger fear.
Or maybe I’m not afraid because it’s much easier to be angry. And not at the shooter. Angry at the gun lobby and their servants in office who refuse to enact common sense measures for public protection.
Underneath it all, or course is sadness. To imagine the lives of kids like mine cut short. To imagine the wails of mothers like me, and to feel even a small echo of their pain sinking in my chest, welling up from my eyes. My son, my son, I don’t think I could go on if you were taken from me! How can it be that anyone sane thinks ordinary citizens have some unlimited right to access weapons of war when kids like you pay the price?
Thoughts and prayers. Yes. My thoughts and prayers are with the families in Uvalde. And Buffalo. And the long list of darkly famous towns who used to be known only for their beauty and their quirky local customs. I pray for their healing and comfort. I pray that today’s tragedy will move the right people to make more responsible gun policy. But these decades of thoughts and prayers have shown that thoughts and prayers are not enough.
Today I pray with my tears. Tomorrow, I hope to have a chance to pray with my feet. In a few months, God willing, our nation will pray at the voting booth and once and for all eject those leaders who worship guns and perpetuate our culture of violence.