I hadn’t set out to write a rhyming title. It just happened.
And when I asked if anybody would come with me to my first gun control rally in front of NRA headquarters on December 14th, the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, I hadn’t set out to start a grassroots initiative.
But I think that’s what’s going to happen.
“I only came because you said ‘Please’.”
My friend Cathy, whom I’ve written about before when we partnered as accountability buddies this summer, was one of four friends who were able to join me that day. “I only came because you said ‘Please’,” she told me afterwards.
While the rest of us were trying to come up with hard-hitting slogans for our protest signs, Cathy showed up at my house with a stick covered in a plastic garbage bag. Is it a weapon? I wondered to myself. Just the opposite.
Cathy had created a sign that required no words at all: a mobile of angels representing each of the Newtown victims.
Words would never be able to compete with angels.
As soon as we got to the rally, the media bombarded her.
If you had asked me, “Who is the person you know who is least likely to enjoy media attention?” I would have said Cathy. But she stood there bravely and humbly as the cameras clicked, her angles fluttering in the breeze, tangling themselves up in their excitement over being seen.
That’s what Cathy’s angels did: they provided a non-combative visual representation of the lives snatched away too soon by gun violence. Since Newtown, 90,000 more people have been killed with guns in the United States.
I had a vision of an entire rally of 90,000 angels fluttering in the wind.
Cathy was featured on the second page of the Washington Post the next day.
The outpouring of support for Cathy’s statement has been incredible.
People are looking for a way to make their voices heard, but they don’t know how. For many, work and family commitments prevent them from showing up at rallies. For many others, the fear of conflict gets in the way. Others simply don’t know who to call or the best places to contribute money.
And opinions differ on exactly what should be done to address the gun violence epidemic in our country. Most middle-of-the-road people don’t feel equipped or don’t have the stomach to jump into that ugly debate.
But the image of souls plucked from us too soon connects all of us.
Nobody can argue with the reality that these were loved ones–mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons–ripped away in an instant of violence. No matter what your political affiliation, we can all feel that pain. It’s part of our shared humanity.
Cathy’s angels send a signal. We, as a country, want our lawmakers to act in the interest of humanity, not in the interest of the NRA and gun manufacturers. Our lawmakers need to know that we are fed up and are informing ourselves on how the system works–the NRA’s political contributions, financed by gun manufacturers, are buying votes in congress. Politicians need to get the message that the number of people who want reasonable gun control outnumbers the “I support the NRA and I vote” bumper stickers.
But we can leave the screaming to other people. Screaming isn’t effective anyway. It puts people on the defensive, and when we’re on the defensive ego gets in the way of higher thinking, no matter what side you’re on. It’s simply unproductive.
Practical solutions have been put on the table (which do not entail taking away everyone’s guns, but do entail obvious steps like background checks and closing gun show loopholes). It’s up to our elected officials to prioritize public safety over political contributions.
Cathy’s angels are calling to us.
Our little band of conflict-averse moms is going to take this energy and share it with others. We don’t know what we’re doing, but it will start with a Facebook page. We don’t even have a name for it yet, but we all feel called to act.
Purpose is a funny thing. Even in this busiest time of year, we feel compelled to start this right now. It doesn’t feel stressful. It’s an almost calming feeling knowing that we are listening to the whispers of our hearts.
And the whispers of our hearts are telling us to spread the power of silent angels. How many more will come if we simply say, “Please”?
If you are with us, share your support in the comments!
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