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Thoughts on Newtown

17 Dec

The events of last Friday’s tragedy in Newtown are almost too awful to comprehend. How can anyone gun down innocent children and the people who teach and take care of them every day? How can anyone shoot his own mother before slaying all those other people? What must it be like to tell a child that their sibling or friend or teacher is gone forever? My heart goes out to all the families and communities involved. So much tragedy for one town to bear. My heart also goes out to the family and friends of the gunman.

Our town of Maplewood, NJ is similar to Newtown in terms of size and the fact that it’s also a beautiful small town that is an easy commute into NYC and acts as a magnet for families looking to raise their children in a safe, nurturing place. This is one of those events that really feels like it could have happened here. It turns out that school massacres common enough in this country that schools here practice code red lockdown drills regularly. I was shocked to discover this. I know that these mass shootings are relatively common – disturbingly so – but I’m shocked that we have moved our family to a place where our children will practice these drills.

They’ll watch their teachers lock the doors and they’ll hide under desks or in closets with their little friends. I’m sure they’ll find it a little exciting – what sort of break from routine isn’t? They’ll be told they’re practising how to act if a dangerous animal like a bear comes into their school. But someday they’ll know, just as they’ll know about Santa and the tooth fairy.┬áThe fabric of their childhood will hold memories practising how to hide from a potential gunman. And that makes me so sad.

And it makes me angry. Angry that it’s legal to buy semi-assault weapons that can allow someone to kill a huge number of people in a matter of minutes. Angry that the “right” to do this is something that is almost impossible to debate. Angry about how many more innocent lives must be lost to gun violence before laws can be strengthened. If this were any other safety issue – if bridges or buildings were collapsing as frequently as the number of mass shooting since Columbine – then I imagine there would be bipartisan action to solve the problem. I hope that American can have a mature debate about guns and how best to make this country safer for everyone living here. I hope there are no more tragedies like Newtown.

Let’s celebrate unspending

17 Nov

All of my American friends and family have been talking up Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving when shops open crazy early offering mad discounts and people lose their heads in the rush to spend, spend spend. Quite frankly, it sounds pretty hellish.

So this year I’ll be happily celebrating conscious unspending instead. Who needs Black Friday when you can have Buy Nothing Day 2012 instead? Just think of all the lovely unshopping you can do, all the brilliant free things in your life which are so much more fun than frantically shopping just because our economy depends on it…Hug someone you love. Read a book (even better if it’s from a library!). Take a walk and look at the sky. Cloud spotting is good for the soul. Or examine a tree. Especially good if the leaves are off and you can actually see the shape of the branches. Mmmm, I’m looking forward to Friday already!

Election 2012

6 Nov

So the polls are closing across the country and the votes are being counted. Our first election night living in the US is well underway and it’s nail-biting stuff. I’m hoping that Obama will be declared the winner in time for me to enjoy a good night’s sleep!

The thing I find most heartening is hearing about exit polls showing women voting for Obama and out-voting men. This is so important, as the attacks on women and their reproductive rights and equality, were such a scary part of the Romney campaign. Whole binders full of women are voting for Obama! Big bird would be proud!

It’s great to hear of women voting in support of each other by supporting a pro-choice President who supports equal rights. It turns the focus of the media onto the power of women as a political force. I hope that power translates into Obama as the winner!
OK, back to nervously refreshing websites and keeping an eye on Twitter to see how these electoral college votes are stacking up…