Throughout this pandemic, I have gone through emotional ups and downs. There have been fears for the health and welfare of my family, my friends, and myself. There has been anguish during a severe illness of my father, and the inability to be with him and my mother for the many months he suffered due to the pandemic. There has been anxiety and worries about my daughters and how they are handling this new normal during the time in their life in which they should be carefree and enjoying young adulthood.
I have tried to fill my days with positivity in the face of these stresses, but it has not been easy. I continue to teach young children in a safe setting. I volunteer for Jewish organizations, such as Hadassah and the Jewish Federation. I walk and try to take in the beauty of nature. However, we are living in an extremely scary time and in addition to the COVID-19, we had a great deal of anger in the public sphere. There was disagreement on how to handle the pandemic. Who determined which rights each person had that would be above the rights of our society as a whole? We experienced an angry and vitriolic political campaign season, and we witnessed the storming of the Capitol by a vicious mob who did not accept the results of the election.
Recently, I thought we might be in a lull. Optimism was beginning to blossom along with the coming of Spring. Vaccines were becoming available. My state and county had been working to vaccinate as many eligible people as possible. People were starting to breathe again. But then, the positive trajectory of our lives was destroyed once again. In just a week, two mass killings occurred. One, an obvious hate crime targeting Asian Americans, and one seemingly senseless, with no known motive at this time.
My heart is breaking. I simply don’t understand why our country, the United States of America, cannot come together and be at peace. The Democrats are calling for gun safety legislation and the Republicans are claiming you can’t take their guns away. It is their constitutional right.
I just don’t understand. Why is a gun, a weapon, a tool that has been proven to take innocent lives, protected more than a person? Why don’t these politicians have empathy to the hundreds, probably thousands of people who have lost their lives to gun violence in the past year? I read in the paper this morning, that more people died from gun violence in 2020, than in many years. Twenty three million guns were purchased in the United States in 2020. We may not have had the same number of mass shootings this year, but we had violence against others, and multiple suicides by guns.
In Boulder, a law was just repealed that banned assault weapons because the judge said a municipality couldn’t legislate gun rules in their own towns. Less than a week prior to the shooting, the attacker purchased his weapon. It is so senseless.
In my opinion, gun safety should not be a partisan issue. We must value people’s lives. Pikuach nefesh, the saving of a life, takes priority over all else. As Jews, we must stand on the side of saving a life. The eight victims in Atlanta and the ten victims in Boulder had a right to live their lives, with their family and friends. The collateral damage to their communities is immeasurable. These people were simply going about their lives and not endangering anyone.
We must come together and speak out against this senseless violence. America is supposed to be the “Land of the free, and the home of the brave”. We are not free when guns are so easily purchased and used for evil. We shouldn’t have to be brave to go to work, or go to the grocery store. I don’t know how these people sleep at night. I know I can’t…