HOW TO MAKE IT STOP

When will it end?

What’s it going to take for radical change?

Where is the line that marks the end of this country’s romance with guns?

This feeling of numbness is becoming sick and familiar.  I don’t know what to do with it.  I feel like I’m swimming in an ocean of PTSD.  It’s bad enough that our country is mired in a nuclear staring contest between nutjobs… we also endure the weekly splatter across our news and social media feeds.  SHOOTING.  CHILDREN.  GUNMAN.  KILLING SPREE.  I just can’t fucking take it anymore.

I called the republican senator from my state.  I had to.  I had to tell him that when these shootings happen, the lack of substantive response feels like THEY.  DON’T.  CARE.  They don’t seem to fucking care.  There’s no debate.  No “good time” for debate.  Ideas any of us might have get swept away in the enormity of it all.  The impossibility.  

Take away the guns?  Ban assault weapons?  More restrictions?  

Never happen.  The NRA will never let that happen.

It’s this monolithic gray slab of NEVER.  NO.  CAN’T.  WON’T.

GUNS WILL ALWAYS BE EVERYWHERE.  THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO.

THESE KILLINGS WILL KEEP HAPPENING.  THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS AND GO BACK TO YOUR LIFE.

Sorry.  Can’t do it.  I can’t.  I won’t.  This issue needs to be revolutionized.  There needs to be revolt.  But it’s more than a fight.  More than “our side” beating “their side.”  There needs to be coming together.  Common purpose.  It’s an easy goal:

WE NEED TO STOP MASS SHOOTINGS.

Can we agree on that?  Can we say that’s a reasonable bull’s eye?

I know what cable news and talk radio and the talking heads will say.  On both sides.  All the positions are already staked out.  The discussion is over before it begins because everyone knows the points and counterpoints.

We need to turn that shit off and start over.  If we can’t come together as Americans with a goal of stopping mass shootings, we’re lost.

I made a list.  It’s a brainstorm.  In a brainstorm, you don’t stop yourself to second guess or get caught up in details.  You just write it down.  You spitball.  Free flowing thought.

Here’s where we can start.  In this exercise, there is no “CAN’T.”  There is no “NEVER GONNA HAPPEN.”  These are ideas.  Having no plan is not a plan.

These are my suggestions.  What’s your suggestion?  Call Congress.  Talk to your neighbors.  Talk to your conservative cousin or your liberal mother in law.  Let’s start a conversation.  Let’s start a revolution.  If we don’t do it, who will?  If it can’t start now, when will it?

Here’s my brainstorm:

Triple the cost of bullets.

If you’ve been convicted of a felony, you may no longer possess a gun.

If you’ve had a restraining order against you, you may no longer possess a gun.

If you have have spent more than 24 hours in a psychiatric facility, you may no longer possess a gun.

If you are on a federal terror watch list, you may no longer possess a gun.

If the police respond to a call for a domestic violence incident at your house, all occupants are placed on a 6 month list to prevent gun purchases.

Your gun is your responsibility.  If your gun is used to commit a crime by another person, you are liable in civil court for damages.

All guns must be registered into a federal database.  For the first year, to mitigate cost, registration will be $10.  

If you sell a gun and do not register the gun and/or the sale, you face a fine of $100,000.

If a gun sold has not been properly registered and is used in a crime, the seller/dealer can be sued in civil court and will be fined $100,000.

Ban assault weapons, automatic/high capacity magazines, bump stocks, armor piercing bullets and silencers.

If you own one of these, there will be a buy back period.  If you do not turn them in, and you are caught in possession, you will be fined or go to jail.

In any gun sale, in any venue, there shall be a one week period between the purchase and subsequent possession of the gun in order for all checks to be completed.

Private sales or gun show sales are subject to same stringent procedures as over the counter sales.

The 2nd amendment is fundamentally altered to reflect the nation’s current reality with guns.

Any business selling guns must pay a large annual dealer fee to support buy-back programs and gun registration costs.

There you go.  My suggestions.  They’re ideas.  Thought starters.  I know they’re extreme and far fetched in many cases.  So is a gunman killing and injuring over 400 people out of a hotel window.

Revolutions have to start somewhere.

What’s your suggestion?

Are You There God, It's Me Jonathan

God, can you hear me now?  My reception sucks in this area.  How's it going?  Hope you don't mind me calling out of the blue.  Here's the deal.

I’m not sure what to do or think anymore.  Things are so . . .

Hey, God, you mind if I curse?

I do it all the time, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise YOU of all people.

God-- THINGS ARE FUCKED UP.  

There’s a guy in North Korea who wants to nuke us.  The planet keeps getting hotter.  My health insurance has gone up about 3000% in the last 5 years.  And God, you might not believe this, but some motherfuckers were marching around giving Nazi salutes and waving swastika banners in Charlottesville.  

Virginia.  

In the United States of Fucking America!

God am I having a nightmare?  Will I be waking up soon to see Bobby Ewing getting out of the shower?  It’s starting to feel like a haunted house that I can’t get out of.  A terrible roller coaster that won’t stop.  A FOUR YEAR VOMIT COMET.

What am I supposed to do, God?  If I go on with my daily life, am I burying my head in the sand?  If I call Congress all day and sign ACLU petitions, is anything really going to change?  Above all God, how the hell are we gonna get out of this mess?

And here’s another thing, God.  I’ve got friends who voted to go to this amusement park.  They thought it was gonna be TERRIFIC.  Jobs.  Pride.  MAGA.  The whole nine yards.  Now I just don’t know what to say to them.  Should I ask them how they think things are going?  Do I want to hear the answer?  Would I be able to truly remain friends with someone who is totally on board with this unholy shit show?

There’s more to life to politics.  Friends can be on opposite sides of the Red/Blue divide and still bond over any number of things.  

But is this more than politics, God?  Feels like this is a whole lot bigger.  Feels like when there isn’t much common ground on the environment, human rights, racial equality, health care, honesty, integrity and basic decency… what’s left?  Is there anything to build a bond on?

“Oh, Bob is sort of okay with those Nazis goose stepping through Charlottesville, but other than that he’s a good guy!”

I don’t know, God.  It’s hard.  This feels like the hardest thing anyone my age has gone through. We were babies when Watergate happened.  Babies and toddlers for Vietnam.  We lived through the anxiety of the Cold War, but nothing really happened.  Both Gulf Wars were terrible but they weren’t close to the scale of World War I or II.

It feels like the world is falling apart, God.  Truth be told (oh who am I kidding, you know this already) I’m not a religious guy, but we need some divine intervention right now.  I guess I might be one of those snowflakes who freaks out a little too easily.  Hey I can own it, I’ve always been a sensitive new age guy.

But here’s the thing, God.  I don’t think I’m being overly sensitive here.  I think shit is crazy right now.  And I kind of think this crazy train is either going to turn the bend into some kind of Valley of Miraculous Awakening (always darkest before the dawn?) or the engine is about to kick it Thelma and Louise style.

Anyway, God, I guess that’s my prayer.  More of a journal entry today.  Watch over us.  I know you always do.  Send us a few extra signals, maybe.  Make sure we remember all the good things in this world.  Make sure that we remember that no matter how fucked up it gets, we humans do seem to pull through.  Don’t forget about us, ok, God?

Thanks.  And Amen.

STATE OF MIND FOR THE STATE OF THE UNION

  

Boy, has this blog been put off for a while.  I have been saying to myself and others for weeks that I needed to have a game plan.  A road map. Some kind of mental framework to deal with the incoming administration.  People on either side of the aisle would have no trouble agreeing that we’re about to see a major pivot in U.S. politics. For some, this is a change they’ve been waiting 8 years for.  For folks like me, it’s a shift that’s casting all kinds of scary shadows.  Fear is never a good spot to be making decisions from.  Everything gets warped and out of proportion.  Then again, I’ve seen some very tangible evidence recently that we should keep the PANIC button at arm’s length.  

In my adulthood (and believe me, I use that term loosely), I’ve lived through 16 of 24 years with a democrat as president.  The remaining 8 had George W. Bush at the helm, and I think they were a disaster. Could it get any worse than an administration bullying a nation into war for reasons that were utterly false?  A war that ultimately cost thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars?  Plunging a nation into a needless war is the most damnable thing a leader can do, in my opinion.  And whether it’s fair or not to all republicans, George W. Bush is my generation’s reference point for a republican president.  

Huge, unmitigated FAIL.

Now with a new republican on the verge of taking power, liberals could be excused for jitters even if it was Mitt Romney.  But of course, Romney looks like Ward Cleaver these days.  We’re about to have some mashup of JR Ewing and Archie Bunker.  

What the F U C K I N G  F U C K E T Y  F U C K  are we in for???

Breathe, Jonathan, breathe.  Let’s make our plan.  These are My Commandments for The Trump Era.

1. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

This has become cliche, but is no less true as when the Brits used it back in WWII.  Trump will be president.  I have accepted it.  I’m not happy, but I also refuse to let his election tear me away from my goals and my passions.  I’m not going to spend 4 years in freak out mode, trying to decide how to counteract his regime.  This is my life, too.  I still want to make art, tell stupid jokes on Facebook, raise my kids and love my wife.  I will not let politics be the dictator of how I feel or what I want to do.

2. KNOW WHEN AND HOW TO SPEAK UP

If you’re on Facebook enough, you’ve seen one of those posts about how “your political meme totally changed my mind!”  I have certainly been guilty of hammering political nails in your Facebook feed.  Mea culpa.  I’ve resolved to use my blog to air fears and strategies concerning Mr. Trump.  It might not be 100% of my content, but I’ll keep it out of my Facebook posts, by and large, because really: that’s not what most of us are on social media for.  If you wanna read the blog, you will.  If you want to debate me, I welcome it.  But we’ll do it “the old fashioned way”-- in person or through direct contact like email. We’re all Americans.  We can have civil discourse.  I think now more than ever, it’s imperative. Speaking of which…

3.  DON’T FEED THE TROLLS

Some people get off on being dicks.  The less time I give them, the better.  So they will not only get zero keystrokes from me, I resolve to give them zero energy as well.  

But we should also remember…

4.  GET OUT OF YOUR BUBBLE

I have thought a lot about this since early November.  I have several friends, many of them long time buddies, who voted for Trump.  I want to stay in touch with their views.  I want to hear their voice.  They matter too-- even if we will never agree on some issues.  I think that’s one of the core pillars of our country: diverging opinions and cultures figuring it out together, in the open.  Not sealed up in our ideological boxes.  This extends to politics as “entertainment” too.  I have begun to wonder whether a steady diet of John Oliver and SNL is entirely good for me.  I have no qualms with our leader being lampooned over and over (you’re the most powerful man in the world, dude, get over it) but the undercurrent of derision for people who support Mr. Trump is what has begun to bother me.  I want to keep talking to people on all sides of an issue.

5.  PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS

It’s much easier to ignore advocacy groups when “your” president is in power.  You’re running the show, right?  Why worry?  I have never been terribly interested in policy details or lobbying efforts, but I do want people fighting the good fight for the next 4 years.  So I have decided to give a little money every month to groups that advocate for our environment (my #1 issue) and a little to the ACLU, to make sure we are all protected under the law.  One person can’t financially support every advocacy group alone, so whatever issues you care deeply about, consider donating a few bucks regularly to the cause.  Also…

6.  PRACTICE RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS

Smiling at a stranger on the street costs nothing.  Waving at the car behind you when they let you change lanes?  Zero dollars.  I am now more determined than ever to do little positive things (and perhaps the occasional BIG positive thing) for no other reason than spreading love. Spend an hour watching cable news and you might come away with the impression that Hate is our national pastime.  I’ve had enough.  I’d rather do something fun and kind as a lark, than spend the same amount of time and effort focused on division.

I guess that’s it.  We’re gonna make it, my fellow Americans!  Just keep coming back to your Gloria Gaynor mantra: I WILL SURVIVE!

And if you voted for Mr. Trump, I hope the next four years make you feel a sense of positivity about our country.  I really do.  And if that happens, share your story with me.  Maybe our discussion will become its own blog.  Meantime, I’ll be smiling at my studio, making more art, and trying to come up with silly gags for your Facebook feed.