This is not the post I was going to publish today. Holiday cheer feels out of place and offensive while twenty children lie dead on a Connecticut schoolroom floor. I am crying, like everyone else, “This has to stop!”
On the television we hear our commentators turn to Congress and the President, as though they are our Big Daddies who will fix everything. Sure, we need to control weapons, but controlling weapons isn’t going to fix us. Neither is Big Daddy. If you are old enough to remember Pogo, you’ll remember his most famous line. “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
But we know this already. We know we live if a culture of violence. We know our young are weaned on movies, television, and mobile phone where the fare is violence followed by more violence. Like everyone else, I know it but feel too small to do anything about it. Commentators wonder why we are numb, why we aren’t angrier.
I feel as helpless as anyone, but then I remember. Thirty years ago my daughter was killed on a mountain highway by two drunken boys who decided to race each other. In the months that followed, rage was my most dangerous enemy—rage at a culture that tacitly okayed boys driving drunk as a sign of emerging manhood. “Oh, well, boys will be boys,” was a phrase likely to make me run screaming to some place where no one would hear my language.
Then another mother—not me—decided to do something about it. She and others who had lost children at the hands of drunk drivers started Mothers Against Drunk Driving. I joined. It was a place to put my rage. Today, as one commentator said last night, “It isn’t cool to drive drunk.”
So today I want to tell those parents whose children are lying dead that I know their grief and their insupportable pain. And I urge them to transform their rage—and, oh, yes, it will come—into action. To demand we stop raising our children on violence.
Big Daddy can and must stand up and take responsibility for the weapons, but he can’t change the culture our children breathe. Only parents can.
“What is under your Christmas tree?”