The most dangerous untruths are truths moderately distorted.
~Georg Christoph Lichetenberg
This weekend was awash with stories of people fleeing for their lives.
Some were school supply shopping at a Wal-mart.
Some were outside on a summer Saturday night.
Just going about their lives, when suddenly life as they knew it … ended.
It’s so sad to reflect on how many times we’ve talked about gun violence here together. We’ve talked about the nightmares we are inflicting on our kids with school drills. We’ve talked about the power of young people to make change in the gun reform movement. We’ve talked about the day that – to my horror – my son re-enacted his intruder drill with the innocence and pride of a six-year-old who’s done a good job.
But all the while, a big part of the country just tilted their heads, smiled, … and turned their kaleidoscope.
Surely you’ve played with a kaleidoscope before.
That telescope-turned-toy that you peer through to see the world in front of you, decorated with pretty colors that change as you turn the barrel.
It’s beautifully simple, isn’t it? Little beads and broken bits that look like colored sugar crystals combine to create snowflake-like images that shift and move with every rotation.
And you can turn it endlessly, over and over. Making a new image out of the same simple crystals and beads and trinkets with every turn. Distorting your view of reality with something pretty and simple and easy.
For anyone watching, they’d assume you were looking through a telescope to see the world more clearly.
And all the while, you’re looking through a distortion.
There are a lot of people out there in America right now that are looking through kaleidoscopes.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of leaders out there right now who encourage it. Every time there’s a shooting, they point to the kaleidoscope. Look through this – it will help you see more clearly. It will calm you. Just take a look…
Suddenly facts that are so clear become muddled. Laser-focused conversations about common sense gun reforms morph into tweets about mental illness. Video games. Movies. Music.
Suddenly direct, sharp news stories about data and restrictions turn into opinion posts about pop culture and whether one statement was better than another.
Soon we’re going down the rabbit holes of tangents.
And the kaleidoscope has done its job.
That job isn’t to focus, but to distract. That job isn’t to inform, but to distort.
And to calm the masses with the soft turning of the barrel. To see the pretty picture that helps you forget the horror the country just witnessed.
Our job, friends, is to recognize that’s what’s happening. To refuse the distortion, and to retain our focus. And to know that a big part of the country is convinced that even though they’re looking at an optical illusion, they’re seeing the truth.
The question is whether there are enough of us that see what’s happening around us and who have kept our focus to counterbalance them.
I know it can be hard to stay focused, and hard to stay motivated, and hard to stay active.
But you can see so clearly.
And so many others cannot.
Don’t look away.
Let’s get to work.
Actions for the Week of August 6
Tuesday: Get out and vote!
Today’s a voting day for some folks, including those in St. Louis County. I’ve been helping a great candidate, Kelli Dunaway, in her bid for County Councilwoman. (So yes, today has been an insanely busy day!!) If you’ve not voted yet, get thee to a voting booth pronto! Help Kelli bring this one home!
Check your polling place and such here: http://arcg.is/1nGqm4
Wednesday: Demand A Conversation
With the domestic terrorism that we’ve endured over the past week, we’ve got to hold our Senators and Representatives accountable. I was pleasantly surprised to see my Congressman schedule a town hall on August 28 (6:30-8:30pm at Harris Stowe University for St. Louis peeps) specifically about gun reform in my District. (If you’ve not seen it and you live in the St. Louis area, check it out HERE.)
Are your Senators or Representative having a town hall? Are they engaging in any meaningful way on this issue (or any others?) Now’s the time to check Town Hall Project (https://townhallproject.com) to see if they have scheduled anything. If they haven’t, or if it’s not included in the Town Hall Project’s schedule – my Congressman’s Town Hall is not, for example – then call your Congressperson!! Let them know you expect them to have a public conversation with constituents on this topic.
Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent at ____. I’m calling with a message for the Senator (or Congress(wo)man). I don’t mean to be rude, but I simply do not understand why your vacation is more important than people’s lives. What events is Senator/Congress(wo)man having to discuss gun violence during this “recess”? [If they say – none – ask if there are *any* events with regular people, as opposed to donors. Then you can follow up with: It is tragic that during a time when the American people are looking for leadership and protection, the Senator/Congress(wo)man meets with donors – not constituents. I’ll make sure that during the next election all of my friends and fellow voters know where the Senator/Congress(wo)man priorities are.]
Thursday: Demand Action
It’s no secret that Senator Mitch McConnell has been sitting on two pieces of gun legislation that’s supported by a huge majority of Americans and would save hundreds (thousands?) of lives per year. (You can read about the bills HERE.)
Why is he still sitting on those bills?
Well, there are a few reasons. None of them good. But at the end of the day, he’s the majority leader, and he can sit on bills for as long as he wants. So let’s use public pressure to force the Senate to act, and to force those bills to the floor.
Do you remember the CRUSH of phone calls Senators got during the ACA vote? Let’s try to replicate that level of outrage!
Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m calling with a message for the Senator. Like a majority of Americans, I agree with common sense gun reform. There are two bills that passed the House and are sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk – both addressing background checks for people who want to buy guns. Neither of those bills is controversial to the American public or the people of this state. What is Senator ___ doing to move those bills? [Optional follow up response: Can you tell me why the Senator is not prioritizing the lives of the people in our state?]
Friday: Get (More) Active
I’ll bet you’re already part of a bunch of different organizations that are doing wonderful things to help change the world. But there are a few gun sense organizations that we should highlight for any new folks, or for people who haven’t had gun reform as a priority who now want to join in!
Hat tip to Rogan’s List for this great roundup of organizations to join and follow to be more involved in the gun reform movement!
In response to the out-of-control gun violence in this country, if we have not already done so, we should join Everytown for Gun Safety (https://everytown.org/), Moms Demand Action (https://momsdemandaction.org/), Newton Action Alliance (https://www.newtownactionalliance.org/), Community Justice Action Fund (https://www.cjactionfund.org/), Sandy Hook Promise (https://www.sandyhookpromise.org/), and Giffords Courage to Fight Gun Violence (https://giffords.org/). We can also sign this petition by Everytown for Gun Safety to the U.S. Senate demanding action now: https://act.everytown.org/sign/smarter-gun-laws and this from Sandy Hook Promise to Congress: https://action.sandyhookpromise.org/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=21213