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Right after 9/11, I did a strange thing — I wrote a funny Halloween story. It was part of a contest, sponsored by our local PBS radio station. I wrote it because it occurred to me that horror had suddenly become such a routine part of our lives. We were living horror every day. What we needed, desperately, was laughter. My story was later read on air…but that’s not the point. The point is, here we are again. And I haven’t got anything funny to say.

It isn’t funny that LGBTQ persons have been attacked in what was, for them, a safe space…perhaps the only one they had.

It isn’t funny that they still need safe places in this day and age.

It isn’t funny that, among the huge outpouring of love and concern over the deaths in Orlando, there are still a few bad seeds who so misread the Gospel as to believe that God does not love everyone, no matter whom they love.

It isn’t funny that no matter how many people are killed by firearm in this country, we cannot effect meaningful dialog on gun control.

It isn’t funny that I am certain our founding fathers did not mean for this to be so.

It isn’t funny that the easiest way (by far) to murder so many people in so short a time is by gun.

It isn’t funny that the NRA is happy to accept money from terrorists and the mentally ill.

It isn’t funny that someone on the “no fly” list can buy a gun with ease and that so many of us refuse to even discuss why this isn’t funny.

It isn’t funny that the idiotic hysteria of “They’re coming for our guns!” still seems to work. When has anyone come for your guns? When has that happened?

It isn’t funny that we can wait for a marriage license, a driver’s license, for the ability to buy the car we want with the options we want, but we can’t wait a single minute to own a gun.

It isn’t funny when a politician’s takeaway from a mass murder is “I told you so.”

But the least funny thing of all is that this will happen again. The US suffers more gun deaths than any first-world nation on earth — innocent people, little kids. And we won’t even stop for a moment to analyze why because we’re too afraid to. Not funny, folks. Not even a little.

I’m angry. Cartoon angry: steam is coming out of my ears. My face is a hue somewhere between “beet” and “red hot lava.” Though I’ve never used my fists in anger in my life, I feel as though I could break a stack of bricks, like one of those amazing karate videos you see on YouTube. Yeah, THAT angry.

Why? Several reasons. My good friend (and fellow blogger) SueBE has written a book for young people (called “Black Lives Matter”) that is being denounced by people who have neither read it nor have any idea what it purports to say. Ignorant people. Close-minded people. The kind of people I have had it up to here (gestures) with. “It says the author writes historical nonfiction for children. So glad to see she’s branched out into fiction,” sniffs one commenter. The enormity of the wrong-headedness of this person (and her ilk) could blot out the sun.

Throw in the recent deaths of a news reporter and camera man by yet another deranged guy with a gun (we seem to have an endless supply of them in this country), tragedies that ought to be met with renewed resolve to do something about the matter, but are instead already raising the hackles of the NRA-faithful in a deafening roar that somehow makes the words “second amendment” louder than “people bleeding to death on the sidewalk.” I get it. YOU didn’t kill anyone; that guy did. And that guy. Oh, and that other guy. And her. And them. And that person and that person and that person…. Seriously, am I the only one who sees a pattern here?

I give myself permission to be angry. God made our emotions; there are no wrong ones. It’s what we do with them that matters. In a song by PIL, John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) sings, “Anger is an energy.” That’s the powerful side of anger, the side that gets things done. Instead of taking my anger out on hapless individuals (like that guy did), I prefer to channel it into something more constructive.

I’m going to do everything I can to champion my friend and her work and the content of that work. I will continue to push for (and vote for) gun control. I will get angry when and where I need to in support of social justice for everybody, including those so blinded to their own privilege, they can’t even discern that this privilege does not extend to anyone beyond the reach of their own fingertips.

And I am going to pray. Oh, Lord, I’m going to rent the heavens. God, make us all angry — angry enough to decide to stop hurting one another once and for all. Because a prayer like that demands energy. And if it has to come from anger, so be it.

I had a post all ready to go — in my mind, anyway. And then I found out that a local woman had been murdered. I knew her, sort of. She owned a Wichita restaurant that served the world’s best soup. When “regulars” came in, she was always ready with a smile and a hug. She was a bright, glowing presence in town and on Facebook, where we were “friends.” We may never have had more than a brief conversation, but she stood on the side of underdogs, and I admired her for that. Just recently, she’d posted a memorial to a doctor who’d been murdered some years earlier, lauding him for his work on behalf of women. And then the same stupid, senseless thing happens to her.

She called her place “Tanya’s Soup Kitchen.” The story goes that when a homeless man mistook the restaurant for an actual soup kitchen, she served him anyway, and gladly. I can believe this story.

Like most women who are murdered, she was killed by a man she knew, though whether they were romantically involved is still unresolved. No one should have to worry about being annihilated at the hands of another, let alone by someone they care about. That this happens so often — to women, in particular — fills me with grief and chagrin. Love, whether romantic or platonic, should never bring death. I know (as much as I truly know anything) that that is not what God intended.

Why do humans kill the ones they love? It seems to be a trait indigenous only to us. You don’t, for instance, see birds killing their mates, the bearers of their offspring. At least not regularly, you don’t. So what is it about human beings that turns our greatest emotion into our worst impulse? Is it jealousy, a need to be loved more than we are loved? Is it misunderstanding? A lack of communication?

I don’t know. I find the whole thing senseless. No matter how many times God tells us Thou shall not kill, we continue to throw God’s words back in God’s face. Surely, “God’s greatest creation” (as I’ve heard humans described, though I am dubious about the veracity of the statement) can do better.

We cannot hope to stop killing those we hate if we can’t stop killing those we love. My prayers go out into the dark world today: God help us.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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