I struggle to be at rest when I don’t have things figured out or when I am overwhelmed. I don’t have to know the answer, but I need to at least identify the next step. What is the next right thing to do?

All week, my thoughts have been disorganized and full of feelings. Sadness. Despair. Frustration. Rage. And just as I was trying to focus on God and church and a sermon and peace this morning, I opened an email about our schools partnering with the city to remember the lives lost here 3 years ago – asking that “we reflect together on the essence of #VBStrong” – and it really triggered me.

The hashtag #VBStrong seriously pisses me off. We should not have to be strong. We are capable of taking steps to prevent the situations that result in these stupid hashtags.

I went back to my journal entry from three years ago and realized that absolutely nothing in this city or this country has changed.

Why can’t we start being strong in the areas that could help prevent these things from occurring? Why can’t we be strong when we vote, supporting candidates who support mental health care and background checks and reforms? Why can’t we be strong about a commitment to finding a compromise on gun control? Why aren’t we willing to put our strength into finding a compromise that shows that our commitment to life and quality of life is more important than our commitment to allow anyone to own any kind of weapon? Why are we just perpetually stuck in an argument about what we can and can’t have and what medical conditions we will and won’t help with, and then relying on each other to be strong when the guns we won’t give up end up in hands that kill our family members and our children and our neighbors?

We should all be horrified by and convicted by The New York Times Sunday Review cover today.

Our belief that gun violence won’t impact us personally may have been the original reason we were quiet, but at this point we must all accept and admit that our inaction and our selfishness and our obstinance got us here.

I am done with all the reasons for not talking about it right now, with all the reasons this is really mostly a mental health issue, and with whining and indignant quoting of the second amendment. Those are the actions of cowards – people afraid of losing money, people afraid of losing votes, people afraid of losing power or control, people afraid that they have been complicit. News flash: you, we, are complicit. Our inaction makes us complicit.

I don’t live in Texas and I have no idea if I agree with all the man’s politics, but I cried this week when I watched Beto stand up and call a thing a thing and call liars liars. There is no longer any right or appropriate time for these sorts of things. People – children – are being gunned down every day in schools, grocery stores, churches, movie theaters. I am so proud of this man in the moment captured in this photo.

Maybe he wants votes. Maybe he’s a Dad and heartbroken. Maybe both. Likely both. But this took some guts. He has a hell of a lot more courage than most of us – and we stopped him a hell of a lot faster than we stopped an armed 18-year-old in a classroom up the street.

I am a believer in the second amendment, the purpose of which was to ensure our ability to defend our country and our homes in the event of a tyrannical overtaking of our land or government. But we cannot be so afraid of compromise on finding regulations that we allow our own countrymen with AR-15s to tyrannically overtake our schools and our churches and our grocery stores and our peace.

Today Audrey and I visited Horton’s Cemetery to talk about what Memorial Day is really about, to honor the memories of such brave men and women, and to pray for all those who mourn. Some fought in World War II, some Korea, some Vietnam, some Iraq. Some were drafted and some volunteered. Some died young and some died old. I read the words of Abraham Lincoln etched in a wall of stone there: “Honor to the Solder, and Sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause.”

Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery
Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery

What did they actually fight for? It wasn’t for our right to own an AR-15. It was so we wouldn’t need to live in fear of evil people who would wield weapons such as that against us.

We need to be strong right now and actually take steps in the direction of making America safer. We can march. We can write. We can donate. We can vote differently. We can speak differently. We can open our hearts and minds to finding compromise. We can try something. We can try anything.

In the words of David Hogg, a student survivor from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School: “I can respect you have a different opinion than me on guns but I can’t accept that we can’t do anything to save our kids.”

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