I, like many of us, went to bed last night, ready to start a new week. I woke up with the buzzing of my phone with CNN news alerts (yes, I’m that much of a news nerd). Upon reading the first alert – “24 dead” … then “50 dead” … I put my head back on my pillow. Here we are again. Another shooting. At this point, I don’t even want to hear the cries of “never again” and “gun reform.” They are empty promises we’ve made to ourselves at this point. It’s disgusting. I don’t want to hear them, because we as a society aren’t following through. We’re letting our lawmakers get tangled up in misplaced claims of Second Amendment rights and the fear of upsetting their “base”, instead of operating with the clarity of the facts.
This starts a new editorial month for Women AdvaNCe. Our theme this month as we approach the NC Women’s Summit on November 4th is civic sustainability. What do we mean by that? The concept of civic sustainability (be able to think and act) empowers change in society through civic education, civic awareness and civic participation. We’ve seen many examples of this over the last 10 months since the November election. People around me are more engaged. The question is, how do you take that engagement and translate it into action? Will more of us vote in our local elections that are approaching next week in many municipalities? Is there more diversity on the ballot, in terms of skin color, perspective, and community representation?
At the same time I also am beginning to sense a fatigue among our society. I feel it myself. Those of us who have been fighting the fight for the last year are tired, and a disheartened. We’re watching words and actions by our President foster an unhealthy divide in our country. We’re waiting for him and other leaders to be held accountable, but they have not. Many of us feel further disconnected from friends and family members who espouse the sentiments being expressed by our country’s top leader.
The question, the challenge, is how do we sustain our civic engagement and investment in the current climate? The best answer I can offer, is we just have to. Nevertheless, She Persisted. We owe it to our children. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to the people who perished last night in Vegas. And we owe it to the people who came before us and fought.
And as for the events in Vegas. I have a small hope, that maybe this is it. This is the event that’s the tipping point. Maybe this is the tragedy that will push us forward. The murder of 20 school children and six adults in Newtown wasn’t enough. The killing of 14 people in San Bernardino didn’t do it. Even the shooting of a Congressman didn’t spur our leaders into action.
When you list those events (and there are more but for the sake of my mental health I can’t look them all up), it’s ludicrous we’re still here. We’re still here, and I’m having a hard time looking my children in the eye and explaining to them why these continue to happen. My seven-year-old asked me why people have to have guns like that and I didn’t have an answer for her.
On top of that, I just learned of legislation being introduced that would make it easier to purchase a gun silencer. Details are still emerging about events in Vegas (what is already being listed as the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history), but based on witness accounts I’m hearing, the sound of the shots were the one thing that warned people so take cover and protect themselves.
We invite you to engage with us this month. Go beyond engaging. Be prepared to take action. Vote. Be prepared to hold lawmakers not following through on serving their constituents accountable.
Because, Nevertheless – WE WILL PERSIST. We must.