Silence = Acceptance

I was recently flipping through the December issue of O Magazine when I came across an article capturing Oprah interviewing a Sandy Hook family that had lost a child. At first, I was uneasy reading the article. I have cried many times thinking about what occurred and what difficulty the families left behind have gone through. The article made the feelings fresh again.

Not long after the Sandy Hook shootings occurred, I was part of an audience that was encouraged not to be the silent majority any more, but to speak out to our government and school leaders and have our voices be heard in regards to violence and gun safety. I believe most of us in this country agree that there are measures we can and should take to make school environments safer and provide more assistance to those suffering from mental illness. I certainly don’t have the answers, but I cannot allow myself to do nothing. Silence = Acceptance. And while there is a part of me that is still working on gaining my confidence in finding my voice, I have great motivation to do so…my children. I certainly don’t want them asking me later in life, “Why didn’t you take a stand?” or “Why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you try?” If I expect my children to find their voice and make a difference in the world, working with others to solve big problems, it starts with me as their parent.

While I would prefer a gun-free world, I know that’s not possible, and see no benefit in trying to pursue that as an avenue to solve this issue. Guns exist and will continue to do so. I am suggesting that we, as parents and as a country, have an opportunity to discuss these really important issues that we are not talking about because we are divided and or fear there is no middle ground. To me, gun safety isn’t an us versus them discussion. We collectively have to figure out how to address this issue.

The Sandy Hook families are not slipping into silence. In fact, they are leading the way in how we solve this problem together by forming a community around the discussion The Sandy Hook Promise: Parent Together to Prevent Gun Violence in Our Communities. It’s simple to join the community and be part of the conversation. Participate and let your voice be heard. Let’s figure out how we solve this problem together.

Silence = Acceptance. I won’t accept silence anymore.

How are you making your voice heard? How do you take action when it may be uncomfortable or not easy to do?

A House Divided, a House United

Raise your hand if you are glad the election is over?

Both my arms would be raised if asked this question. There were a lot of stressful events to watch, read and hear about in recent weeks—the election getting to a fever pitch — what will happen if Romney wins, what will happen if Obama gets re-elected, followed by Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath, followed by the actual election and a country divided.  Doesn’t feel very good, right?

A reprieve from this negativity came in the form of reality came from my niece and son. My niece who was four in 2008 said that she would have voted for John McCain in our last election. When asked why, she simply replied, “Because his hair looks like grandpa’s!”  And she was right it did look like Grandpa’s.  My oldest son said to my husband and I one day in recent weeks, “I would vote for Romney!”  When asked why, he said, “Because I like his hair!”  Wow, I thought, hair has a lot more influence for a kid than I would have expected, and boy I’m glad the voting age is 18! 

Mo Rocco did a recent piece for CBS Sunday Morning where he walks a classroom of kids through the election, electoral process, and the complexity that can arise when the popular vote and electoral votes don’t match. The outcome of the mock election—what is better: colored pencils or markers—didn’t seem very fair to the children participating in the segment. The popular vote in the classroom had been for colored pencils, but markers won the electoral vote. The kids were divided. One side elated, the other felt like it was unfair. It would resonate with anyone who suffered through the 2000 election.

When the election was over and my anxiety succumbed to relief, I took a deep breath. I knew the outcome. It was over. Knowing I could now move on and not have to stress about “what-ifs” made me happy.  The last two years leading up to this felt like a rivalry football game–it felt like one team was winning handily, but being told constantly that the other team was closer to winning than you might think. And instead of “the game” lasting four quarters it felt like 100, maybe 1,000…basically it felt like an entirety, a roller coaster ride that I was glad had ended.

The innocence of a child’s thinking–like my niece and my son’s–can be easily lost in such decisive times. I wish it wasn’t that way. Elections are about winning and losing. It’s a competition played in the dirtiest of ways—half-truths, innuendo and exaggeration. Like the children in the mock election, some of us are elated with the results while others are heartbroken. While we may feel like a country divided I think we can all agree on this—there is much to still fix in our country, and the way we run political campaigns is very, very disappointing.

While I don’t have hope around how our politicians campaign and get elected to office, I do have hope for our country finding more common ground and working together to address our issues.

In my house we can all agree on that.