This morning I was going through my usual routine of a cup of coffee with quick email, Twitter and Facebook check before work. This is after showering, dressing and smooching my family and dogs. There might be cereal or, better yet, waffles with peanut butter involved (a breakfast I learned from a surgery intern when I was a medical student: damn good fuel for a day that might not allow you to pee, much less to stop and eat something).
Anyway, I was looking at social media and came across a headline: "Shooting on Oregon Campus". Irrationally, or maybe actually rationally, I stabbed at my iPhone screen to open the article because I immediately needed to know WHICH Oregon college campus and please God let it not be the one where my child is right now.
It was not. But does that make it OK? Several people had children, family, friends who were murdered on a college campus today. Why is that OK?
The evening before I was at the hospital admitting someone who would have rather not been admitted but such is the way of healthcare in our advanced society. The first thing this person said to me when I walked through the door and introduced myself was "They sent me here unarmed!" In my head I was saying "Yeah, that was intentional"because I know the history of expertise in concealed weapons in this particular individual. To my credit I did not check every square inch of the bed and bedclothes.
Maybe I would be safer if I armed myself? Then every threat I receive in my line of work would be countered with my calm bedside manner accompanied by a steady finger on the trigger. Does that sound crazy? Hell yes, it does, because IT IS.
Thoughts and prayers are nice, but inadequate. There is a thing going around on social media now about letting people who love guns have them, because America is about freedom. But I have to ask myself how free I feel when I can seriously contemplate, over my morning coffee, that a mass shooting on a campus might involve a child of mine. Other countries do not have this problem, because they control gun access. Period.
I run in beautiful places whenever I get the chance. It allows me to clear my mind, to feel blessed by beauty, to let go of anger, stress and fear, to feel the strength of my own body and to tap into endorphins which are almost as powerful as waffles with peanut butter. I have, occasionally, been threatened by unsavory men. Once I was almost intentionally run over by a guy in a pickup truck. But ultimately, I feel safe because I do not feel hate toward others. I actually like people and I will and have and will again not attend some family function because some stranger needs me due to their health crisis.
I believe in compassion. I am in favor of freedom. I fight for health in individuals and my community for a living.
Today, we were robbed. Someone walked into our home and stole from us. I actually suspect it was some kid who has been here before, and although I feel invaded and frankly pissed off, I also recognize that humans are flawed and there is no way to avoid unpleasantness in life. Suffering is part of the human condition, and those who perpetrate hate and burglary and murder are certainly suffering the most. Otherwise, why would they do this?
I have also been recently robbed of a ring my father gave my mother not long before she and he died, and my one pair of real pearl earrings, received as a gift from a dear friend over 25 years ago. That hurt. But mainly because I want to believe in the goodness of people, of children, of my neighborhood, of my community.
But no amount of hurt, anger or vulnerability could prompt me to arm myself against another human being.
Can guns be OK? Yes. Should they be very, very, very difficult to buy, carry around your community and point at another human being? Fuck yes.
Enough is enough.