Gunmania? Will the real America please stand up?

A man comforts an anguished woman after The Robb Elementary school massacre in Texas. Courtesy theglobeandmail.com

Why must people like this woman suffer through pointless mayhem, time after time? Such hell on earth, to say nothing of the victims?

I felt I had to respond to the latest gun-lust/ hatred/ madness in Texas, with 18 children and two adults murdered in cold blood, and counting. It’s America’s worst gun-violence toll since the Sandy Hook massacre, which a certain strain of Americans have twisted into a fake death conspiracy. That’s where we are. So I’m deeply grateful for the courage of poet Brian Bilston and of theater artist Julia Stemper, who posted his poem.

Below the poem is my further comment.

I, like probably others, initially thought this poem too facile and unfair a reduction of America’s incredibly diverse identity. And yet, so sadly, I asked myself, what other than than guns is a symbol more manifest in American political culture today?

It’s as if The Statue of Liberty’s torch has been replaced by a AK-47. We stand breathlessly aghast, waiting for her to drop her arm and fire — ravaging fellow humans of all ages and colors — to protect our “personal liberty.” Lady Liberty would then collapse in tears, over the madness infecting her.

More guns than Americans. A tragically lame, kowtowing Congress. Tell me, what single symbol today is more pointedly apt to signify the darkest, deepest corner of this blighted nation’s collective psyche, than its bloody gun lust?

Finally I offer my friend Julia Stemper’s own poem, echoing Bilston’s form, as a positive, proactive response:

It’s time to change this
Hug your children
And change this
Hug your children who have children
And change this
Hug your children who teach children
And change this
Hug your children who don’t deserve this
And change this
Hug yourself, you are a child
You don’t deserve this
Don’t hug a gun
Just change this
— Julia Stemper 
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