Fair warning: I swear in the text below. (Photo by Lucas Metz)
My phone has been blowing up for 24 hours. Everyone asking the same thing: Are you okay?
No, I am not okay.
I am not okay with people shot in hospitals.
I am not okay with children shot in schools.
I am not okay with people shot in grocery stores.
I am not okay with people shot in places of worship. Or with people shot in clubs or people shot in movie theatres. I am not okay with people shot in their cars, in their homes, or on the street.
This is not a Dr. Seuss book. This is life and death.
I am not okay with guns. Period. There, I said it.
In Idaho, I know folks who hunt elk and deer with bows. I’m okay with bows. Those things take a lot of practice and strength. Hunting with a bow is hard work. And it’s honorable. Anyone who hunts with a bow is definitely using that meat to eat. If you want to hunt, use a bow.
I am not okay with open carry laws. I am not okay with politicians paid off by the NRA. I am not okay with a handful of citizens declaring the right to defend themselves with firearms and using the 2nd Amendment as justification for this. I am not okay with men – primarily men and particularly white men – brandishing guns because they feel threatened. I am not okay with Kyle Rittenhouse being acquitted.
I am not okay with things as they are. I am not okay with politically expedient thoughts and prayers and no policy changes.
I am not okay with arming teachers or with children, as young as three years old, having to endure active shooter drills. I am not okay with assault rifles and certainly not okay with assault rifles being sold basically anywhere and to anyone age eighteen or older.
I am not okay with guns being the number one cause of death for children in the United States. This is not okay. THIS IS NOT OKAY.
Today all of this is the cause of my anguish, heaped onto so much more.
I am not okay with elected representatives continuing to spread lies of election fraud. Or with a stalemate Senate.
I am not okay with child marriage, still legal in 44 states. Or with male Christian leaders sexually abusing women and children or with religious governing bodies covering up the abuse.
I am not okay with childcare not being valued.
I’m not okay with a failed medical system that is owned by corporations. Or with health insurance not including dental.
I am not okay with public schools that lack funding and teachers who have to pay for their own classroom supplies.
I am not okay with for-profit prisons.
I am not okay with unprecedented heat, fires, and natural disasters, all placed under the sterilized label of climate change. I am not okay with corporate greed.
I am not okay with Putin’s war on Ukraine.
Sweet Jesus, Gracious Goddess, Heavenly Father and Mother Mary, I am not okay with any of this and there’s so much more that I’m too exhausted to list.
I am one word, one image, even one breath away from tears. I blink and they come. I blink again to try and hold them back.
I am miraculously dressed and fed. And I am one step away from peeling off these clothes and going back to bed.
The weirdest, most surreal, and infinitely frustrating thing is how the world carries on. We have all agreed (passively and yet agreed nonetheless) to a cultural dictate to act like we’re okay, that everything is okay, that things are normal. We are frogs in a pot of boiling water adjusting to the heat.
But the truth is we are fried. We are boiled. We are burnt. We are over-dosed.
We are not okay.
We talk about the rise of mental illness. We blame mass shootings on mental illness. We blame crime on mental illness. I call bullshit.
We are not mentally ill. We are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually spent. We are hurting. The illness is in our society, not in our minds. You have to be mentally ill to not care. It’s our caring that hurts and our hurts not being heard that takes us over the edge. Anyone who picks up a gun and kills someone doesn’t do it out of indifference. Killing comes from emotion and our emotions are haywire because we are constantly told everything is okay when clearly it is not. Or we’re told things can’t change when they certainly can.
We are not okay.
I disavow the expectation to be okay. I will function, I will go through the motions, but I am not okay. I will force myself to publish this. I will go to work today and interact with people like a sane person. I will respond to your texts, your calls, your emails as best as I can.
But be very clear: I am not okay. I do not accept this normal. I will cry, I will swear, I will raise my voice, and I will go down fighting. Despair may have me in a headlock, my skin bruised, and my heart hacked but I will undoubtedly be back on my feet again doing whatever I can to make this world a better place. In time.
First, I need a moment to mourn. To nurse the pain, to bandage the wounds. To catch my breath.
None of this is okay, my friends. Can we please stop acting like it is?