What I know about guns.

Here is what I know and have come to learn about guns.

This is maybe a more raw, unpolished, but perhaps more honest view of my three years of living in Chicago.

I know that I hear gun shots several times a week from my home in North Lawndale. And I have learned that in the summer I will hear them more.

I know the feeling of shock and fear that rushes over you when a text or call comes in letting you know that a kid you love has been shot.

I know what a gunshot wound’s entrance and exit looks like on the back of a 16 year old’s head.

I know the look of insufficient care when the same 16 year old was discharged from the ED with dried blood still on his face and neck and with no painkillers, just a recommendation to grab some ibuprofen at Walgreens.

I know the shell-shocked and desperate look of PTSD in the eyes of a 18 year old boy who has lost several close friends due to gun violence.

I know that these kids don’t know it isn’t normal for them to lose friends to gun violence.

I know there is something really wrong when kids have been to dozens more funerals than weddings.

I know 1803 people in Chicago have been shot this year-to-date, with no slow down in sight.

I know that guns have been used to murder 266 people in Chicago so far.

I know guns have destroyed the lives of many more.

I know what a roadside memorial for a young girl killed by a stray bullet looks like when it is covered in cards, streamers, and balloons on what would have been her birthday.

I know that guns are the common factor in these shootings and death.

I also know that there are other factors.

I know we can’t control everything.

But I know society can do better to control the weapons used in these acts of violence.

I know gun violence. I live in its smoldering wreckage every day.

And I know I want it to stop.

#disarmhate

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#MoreThanMean

I saw this video a couple weeks ago.

It hurt. Today it circled back into my newsfeed, and it still hurts. Some of the comments I have read in response are encouraging: “How terrible” “How upsetting” “Absolutely sickening!” “This is painful to watch!”

Other comments frustrated me: “Brush it off.” “There will always be nasty people out there…” “I’m pretty sure both genders get treated like this…”

Sadly, those are the exact comments that grant a level of acceptability to that behavior, allowing things like this to continue. Those comments missed the point. While the above comments also mentioned how terrible those words are – and I can appreciate that – they were drenched in naivety. Naivety of what exactly those comments is what #MoreThanMean is bringing to light.

Yes, we all need to develop thicker skins. We need to learn that people will say mean things and we need to find a way to not believe everything people say and take things so personally when they are just internet comments. Yes, there will always be nasty people out there. But that doesn’t mean we should just let things like this happen.

Yes, all people can get treated badly. But this video is showing us extreme and violent hatred directed specifically at women for just being women.

This video shows how cruel people can be, but even more, how we need to bring into the light this evil. We need to stand up and show people that this shouldn’t be tolerated. And it seems people harness the power of the internet and type things they normally wouldn’t say in person. This anonymity is a dangerous thing and we can’t accept this behavior. We can’t dismiss it and “brush it off” by just acknowledging nasty people are out there. Because this is #MoreThanMean, it is gender-based violence.

So what do we do? How can we stand against tweets and comments that are #MoreThanMean?

I think it starts with not accepting mean as okay, not accepting mean as the norm. By recognizing that gender-based discrimination, assault, and violence is rampant, and must be stopped.

And there are many ways we can combat that- through the legislative process, through advocacy efforts, through learning more about gender-based discrimination, by supporting and empowering those who have experience #MoreThanMean.

On a more personal level, I think we can make sure we show more love in our everyday lives. Let’s not accept this behavior by standing up for those who have experienced #MoreThanMean. Let’s go back to a place where we love more than we hate. And then let’s love some more. Let’s show more love than frustration. Let’s drench the world with love. Let the world see our love, hear our love, and feel our love. Because “this is how everyone will recognize that we are His disciples – when they see the love we have for each other.”

Unconditional love is not logical. It doesn’t make sense. When people wrong us, we want to get even and fire back equal, if not greater, pain. But that doesn’t give life. That doesn’t restore. So how can we fight #MoreThanMean? #MoreLove