A Valentine’s Day Like No Other

A Valentine’s Day Like No Other

By Siegrid Raible

It was a strange Valentine’s Day. It was February 14, 2018 near the end of a sunny school day when fourteen students and three teachers at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, lost their lives to a young man with an automatic weapon. This weapon (a weapon similar to those issued to members in our military) whose only purpose is to kill as many people as possible in the shortest period of time is available for purchase at gun shows and gun shops throughout America. Our families, friends and neighbors have fallen victim to the anger of men wielding these weapons so often that we have developed a well-worn ritual for dealing with these tragedies.

We all seem to be playing an unwitting part in these holocausts. The attacker arrives at a target – a school, a church, a disco, a movie theatre, an outdoor concert arena, a Congressional baseball game, a … sadly, the list goes on. He is either shot or caught and sought out by our ubiquitous cameras. The news media swarm to the site for “breaking news” interviews with eyewitnesses. Politicians send thoughts and prayers to grieving families and then return to their respective corners of gun rights versus gun control. And just this week a new element has been added to the staging of this tragedy. After the nightly news program on PBS, the names and photos of the victims of the Parkland, Florida massacre were played in silence. It reminded me of the not-to-distant past when another ritual was played out. A few years back PBS would run the names and photos of the American soldiers killed in the battles of Iraq and Afghanistan. And with this in mind I had to ask myself is America at war with itself?

Other questions haunt me. What purpose do these weapons serve? What benefit does society gain from this product? Are we any safer with these weapons in our midst? If we are a civil society, why do we need these weapons? If we are not at war with our fellow Americans, why do we need these weapons?

If we are not at war with ourselves, then the answer must be that we do not need these weapons. If we value life, then the answer has to be that we do not need these weapons. And, as demonstrated over these many years and the thousands who have lost their lives and the countless numbers who have suffered from the physical and emotional injuries visited upon us by the use of these weapons nothing is gained from their use; but just the opposite, all is suffering – loss of life, loss of sense of security and the shattering of our communities.

We must find a way to put an end to today’s ritual mass murders. It is enough. I no longer wish to be a silent witness to these endless tragedies. Let us remind our local, state and federal leaders that the country was founded upon the principles of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” And, that under the Constitution it is their sworn duty to “insure domestic tranquility” and to “promote the general welfare” of the people. Let us remind them of their sworn duty to protect the peace and in so doing to protect our lives and our right to the pursuit of happiness. Let us remind them that the right to life trumps the right to own and use a weapon of mass destruction. Let us put an end to gun violence and make America safe again.

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