Our nation’s at a crossroads, where we must stop not looking at what is difficult and deadly, we must begin grieving again, and then we must heal ourselves by doing whatever is needed, no matter what it takes, to prevent future pain. Denial is part of the healing process. It comes after shock, as we process our grief. Next: anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. If left unchecked, denial can lead to unspeakable consequences.
For too long, we’ve allowed ourselves to stay stuck in denial, which gets us nowhere except to 20 children and 6 faculty slaughtered yesterday before morning snack break. For too long, we haven’t wanted our country to go through the growing pains of anger, bargaining and depression required to accept the challenge before us and the laws that must be changed in order to stop this. Whatever laws must be changed. Whomever has to compromise in order for that to happen.
We must reach a place where our children and teachers and heroes and families are safe, and where our mentally ill are properly diagnosed, cared for and, yes, contained, if they’re deemed a threat to society. Otherwise, we’re doing this to ourselves and our loved ones and neighbors, and we’re saying that’s okay. It’s worth the sacrifice, as long as we don’t have to look to hard or work to hard or face what we don’t want to.
A common complaint about my fiction writing is that, though I’m a generally happy and entertaining person, my stories are heavy, my characters are flawed, and my plots are neither light nor easy to digest–no matter the happy ending a reader gets to enjoy once I’m through with them.
Yes, I ask my characters and readers to move past the easier issues and see the anger, bargaining and depression that is human nature when the hard stuff comes. I ask this of myself and my own family every day: that we process the difficult things instead of looking away; that we strive for acceptance and refuse to submit until we’ve arrived there.
This won’t be an easy journey. This path will take everyday heroes to complete. Just like my characters, my family, my readers and you are all capable of being either heroes or blind, passive, in denial quitters.
We cannot stay innocent and ignorant of the reality we’ve created in this country, where a madman with four guns and a burning need to kill children can smash through a window and a security system and destroy until his heart’s content and only stop when a SWAT team responds and corners him.
We cannot ignore the epeidemic of mental illness in this country that isn’t being dealt with because insurance companies aren’t required to fund treatment.
We cannot allow guns to be purchased in mass and not tracked and their use not curtailed in any way, because we’re so afraid and in such shock and denial and are bargaining for our our own personal security at the expense of innocent lives who cannot speak for themselves and shout their worth to us.
Can you hear the children screaming that they are worth more than our unrestricted freedoms and or corporate profits, and that they deserve to live longer than our carelessness, and that they would still be here if we’d accepted the job before us sooner…after the last public massacre?
This is the end of the blind innocence that led us here. This is the beginning of the pain and the healing. This is the hope that gets me through and helps me process and shows me a way forward. This my challenge to you.