There’s a quote by Mr. Rogers that gets trotted out after a tragedy. We’ve all heard it a lot over the past week and recent months and years. Mr. Rogers suggests that when something bad happens, look for the helpers. The helpers are beacons of hope, pulling some good out of the terrible and offering some stability in a moment when our collective head is spinning.
It seems we need helpers more than ever.
I wonder what’s happening with the people, the elite and loud, who self-selected and asked us to trust in their willingness and ability to be helpers. They raised their hands. They volunteered. They promised to be better suited for the job than anyone else. They asked for our vote.
They weren’t drafted like the spectators in Boston who in a flash went from cheering at the finish line to making tourniquets out of t-shirts and carrying victims to safety. Or the responders in Newtown who had to document and clean up after the slaughter of their community’s children. Average citizens, stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time, are brave, heroic and poised. They personify grace. Our eyes well and chests swell with pride when their stories are on the news.
Dear United States Senators: Take notice.
Last week, the gun bill expanding criminal background checks for gun purchase, died in the Senate. The bill wasn’t overly ambitious. It didn’t break new ground. It didn’t restrict anyone’s right to buy a gun. It didn’t move forward because our leaders are not acting as helpers.
Our elected helpers lack grace.
When I fly, I take my shoes off to get through security. I submit to a scanner that dissolves my clothes, allowing unknown persons to check my body for lumps. I submit to pat downs. I don’t carry shampoo or lotion. I do this because one crazy guy tried to blow up his shoes. Another guy tried to light his underwear on fire.
I don’t mean to make light of these acts. The public needs to know that the government is doing everything possible to make the sky safe. I get it. I agree. The idea of a terrorist act that takes a plane full of people down is shocking and hideous. But have we become so desensitized to violence that we don’t view mass shootings in our schools, on our streets and in our theaters with equal horror?
Are you a terrorist if you bring down a plane but you’re something less grotesque, less worthy of attention from elected helpers if you kill elementary school kids or college students or movie watchers or elected officials?
I’ve written and rewritten this post. I feel woefully ill-equipped to discuss the issues surrounding guns and violence. And I’m afraid our legislators are counting on that – They’re hoping to never feel heat from their constituents since they already feel pressure from lobbyists. My thoughts in this little margarita blog might not mean anything but maybe by raising my voice, I can (in a small way) be a helper too.
So though I worry I don’t have a firm grasp on all the forces that rule the day, my representatives should know this:
I hold you responsible for my safety and the safety of those I love and safety of those I’ll never meet. I think mass killings are acts of terror and the person who carries out the carnage is a terrorist. And you, our elected helpers, must act with the same urgency and solution based thought to prevent the next school shooting as you do to prevent other acts of terror. You asked us to make you leaders. You can’t be less heroic than innocent bystanders who never asked for the role. It can’t be too much to ask for you to be honest, to engage in fair dialog and to put your personal interest after the interest of the country.
The margagogo.com Seattle Bureau Chief raised her voice when she wrote to Senator Mark Pryor, one of the four democrats who voted against the gun control measure and a representative from her home state in Arkansas. She said in part: “… although … I understand the election-year pressures you face, the lost lives in Newtown — and the hundreds of others lost in Arkansas and around the nation every year — are more precious than politics.”
At this point in my blog, I usually write about a drink I enjoyed (or didn’t) or a restaurant I visited and I tie the mixology and gastronomy to the blog topic. Around the issue of violence and safety, terrorists and terrorism, we need to be sober so today, I have no drinks to share. Hopefully, someday, we can toast to progress and celebrate an era when we don’t have a second thought for our safety.
And for those who don’t remember, the Mr. Roger’s quote is:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”