A True American- 2013 Style

Last week I was doing my daily Facebook run through, when I saw a Facebook friend of mine posted an article about a shooting in Garden State Plaza, in Paramus, New Jersey. While I was reading the article my heart skipped several beats. I knew exactly where the mall is. I knew it like the back of my hands. I knew it because Garden State Plaza is my mall. My New Jersey mall experienced a shoot out. As I read more articles regarding the shooting I learned that the shooter was from Teaneck. My Teaneck. The safe neighborhood I grew up in and have only the fondest memories of.

This morning I was doing the same Facebook run through when I came across a New York Times article someone posted about another shooting. This time it was in Manhattan’s Bryant Park ice rink. The ice rink I was taught over and over again how to ice skate to no avail. The ice rink that was my winter meet up spot. The ice rink that epitomizes a winter wonderland for all New Yorkers.

Well I guess that is how you know you are a true American these days- when there is a shootout in a place you know.

Too often we say well it happened in Aurora, it wouldn’t happen here. It happened in Sandy Hook, it wouldn’t happen here. It happened in Boston, it wouldn’t happen here. Well what happens when it does happen here? What happens when you see your mall and your ice rink next to the words “gun” “shoot” “evacuate”? Will there be an end to this siege put up around America or should we get used to the unfortunate reality of every few days seeing another mall, school, or movie theater attacked in the name of crazies?

As a new Israeli citizen I am often frustrated by the somewhat hokie pokie-esque scene of “you put your bag in (the security check machine), you put your bag out, you put your jacket in, you put your jacket out” while entering public places. However, in the long run I have always felt safer here in Israel. It is unfortunate, but in Israel there is a real sense of danger. Israelis know what a gun is capable of. Too many Israelis bear the scars of a pulled trigger. Way too many. Yes, the constant security checks are annoying to say the least, but I would rather a few minutes of frustration than god knows what.

In this respect, America needs to stop helping Israel and rather learn from Israel. Of course these random shootings are horrendous, but let’s face reality, it doesn’t look like they are going to stop anytime soon. It’s time for America to stop thinking she is invincible. It is time for America to let go of her ego and create security checks and metal detectors before entering bus stations and train stations and malls and theaters. It is time for America to understand the seriousness of this desperate situation and  establish gun control laws that apply everywhere for everyone. It is time for America to care about her children in schools, her runners in marathons, her movie go-ers, her ice skaters, and her college students. For her to once again be the “land of the free.” Free for people to go out of their homes without fearing for their safety.

It is time for America to reassure me that the day will never come that I will see a name of a beloved in an article during my daily Facebook run though (god forbid).

About the Author
Lottie Kestenbaum was born to British parents and grew up in New Jersey. To add to the identity crisis, Lottie made aliyah in August 2012. Hello tri-citizenship! She is currently studying Jewish History and English Literature at Bar Ilan University. Lottie shares more of her aliyah adventures & ongoing thoughts on her blog, Newest Sabra on the Block.