I was going to write something philosophical about creativity today, but got hit hard by the sadness of yet another mass school shooting, in Florida this time. I read the news stories, watched the videos, saw the memes, shared a lot. And it is hard not to be cynical, not to feel like there's nothing we can do about it. Because we've been here before. I thought that Sandy Hook would be a definite turning point. And it wasn't. Could this be? Do I dare hope that at the very least some good will come of it? That the consciences of the powers-that-be will be provoked and they will finally do something? That at least they will put laws in place to prevent mentally ill persons from getting guns? Ban AR-15s?
How do you keep trying to make a difference when the odds are stacked against you? When the N.R.A. has consolidated so much power in all three branches of government? When their message is repeated in the heartless comments on posts pleading for gun control? How do you not despair? I ask that to the Universe and what came back was the fact that I got a message from Sandy Hook Promise, asking for help to keep trying to help prevent gun violence. Someone cynical may say that she, Nicole Hockley, Dylan's mom, was taking advantage of the current shooting to raise money for her cause. I deleted the message at first because about 90% of all my email is about fund-raising for some cause or another. But after soaking in the sadness, I realize that she represents hope and perseverance, which I sorely needed. Someone who lives every day in the service of this cause as a way of making sense of her loss is not to be ignored in a time like this.
I started writing letters to the editor when still in high school. One of my first ones had to do with gun control. There had been a shooting where a lot of fellow students were present and one of them was killed. I wasn't there and I didn't know personally the one who was killed or the shooter, but I knew others who were there. It shook me up, the thought that it could have been me, or a friend, or a brother or sister. I wrote as a way to express that feeling - something should be done.
As an educator, I was a union activist, mainly because I was trying to do something to change what I thought was an irrational system centered around standardized testing. I tried to push for a more humane approach to education. This fight still continues, like the fight for gun control. The lack of progress does make you want to stop trying. What's the use? When I retired from teaching (due in part to this problem), I realized that I did my part, but that it would take many more people doing their parts for change to happen.
In advocating for gun control, though it seems hopeless, it would be even more so, if we didn't continue to support the cause. Our one vote, our one blog post, our one meme, our one haiku, our one letter to the editor, is better than nothing. It becomes part of the movement, part of the energy needed for change to happen. Here's my little part. My little blog, my little haiku. And then there's my donation to Sandy Hook Promise.
Diane Aoki is a writer who explores other modes of creativity as her intuition leads her.