It is grey this morning on the Upper West Side of Manhattan as the early November gloom mirrors the mood in America on yet another morning after. In Trumpist America, where violence and anger are legitimate modes of expression and the Second Amendment reigns supreme, an armed crazed gunman entered a church in Texas yesterday, shooting up the congregation where his former in-laws prayed. In American society, domestic violence becomes domestic terror fueled by easy access to weapons of war. Like communities in Israel that are rocked by acts of terror, this violence impacted an entire population as 7% of Sutherland Spring’s people were killed while praying in their Baptist church.
Just as Tuesday’s terror attack on the West Side Highway bike trail reminded me of attacks in Israel, so did this senseless act of violence. Whenever a house of worship is involved, it is natural to wonder if the motivation was bias or prejudice. We wondered, as the news was breaking, if this was an African-American church, or whether the gunman had connections to a foreign terror group. Terror, no matter where, no matter who, no matter why, has the power to make us fearful, distrustful and insular. Trumpist America plays on that very human need to protect oneself and one’s family by demonizing the other in our midst. Again, whether the terror happens in Israel, Texas or TriBeCa, fear and anxiety, magnified by the collective grief, are natural responses to acts of evil in the world. Given the never-ending stream of evil acts in our world right now, how do we bring a sense of harmony and hope to our society?
Which brings me to my modest efforts to create a sense of harmony and hope where I can. When I created the Sacred Rights, Sacred Song Project 7 years ago it was with the express intent of raising the Jewish communal voice in concern over the state of democracy in the Jewish State. Now that established Jewish organizations have taken on that crusade, I am no longer a lone voice demanding a change to the status quo. I know that I played a role as an artist/activist in moving this issue. I chuckle remembering how reluctant I was to establish an SRSS social media platform, but I also knew then that social media was one of the primary ways that people come together in the 21st century. 7 years later, modern civilization in general and American democracy in particular, are wrestling with the consequences of our social media world. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat……..we are suffering through the Wild West of the Digital Age and following every development both online and on the air. The developments are coming fast and furious and the need to raise my voice and act is sparked by every news cycle. And so, I have finally given in and opened a Twitter Account so that I can tweet my views in 140 characters or less with the appropriate hashtag.
While the hashtag and the brief tweet can convey the essence, I am grateful to have this blog to share my thoughts in more depth. I think a lot about Israeli and US societies, looking for what lessons one democracy can teach the other. In the wake of the Texas Church Massacre,in the wake of Las Vegas, in the wake of Orlando, in the wake of Sandy Hook, in the wake of Virginia Tech, can gun control advocates look to Israel for any guidance? Simply put, yes. In Israel, the population is surrounded by a sworn enemy whose goal is the destruction of the State of Israel. In Israel, gun ownership is literally a matter of life and death. In the United States civil society, guns, widely available in stores and protected by the Second Amendment, serve no purpose other than “recreation.” Unlike Israel, there is no sworn enemy surrounding the population. This is a distinction with a huge difference.
No one bird is loud enough to tweet this obvious fact — but perhaps if the thought is shared in a form of tweet, other like minded activists will begin to tweet the same thought and retweet and post and share and begin to act. In Trumpist America, those of us who care about the sanctity of life must raise our voices, in whatever way, and demand the repeal of the Second Amendment. The Tweets of the Citizens must begin to drown out the Tweets of the Trump as We the People continue to find our voice.