Politics is not an island

Another school shooting, with 27 dead, 18 of them children. At an elementary school. A fucking elementary school.

I have now seen people rushing both to frame this in a political context and to shout about people commenting on something politically when it’s a horrible tragedy. And it is horrible, and indescribable, and I cannot begin to imagine how the people in the community feel, let alone the families of the victims. I have been crying about this, about people I’ve never met and now will never possibly meet.

Yet I also think it’s bullshit to pretend that this is somehow separate from politics and should not be viewed in that light. A tragedy shouldn’t be used to score cheap, disgusting points in an argument, shouldn’t be used for manipulative posturing that solves nothing. A tragedy shouldn’t be reframed and distorted through the lens of ideology, just like facts shouldn’t be attacked because they’re inconvenient to beliefs.

But.

At the same time, politics is not an island and the availability of firearms in this country is a fucking political decision. The decisions we make as a country politically are felt by everyone who lives here, and those decisions have consequences, both bad and good. Things that happen in this country likewise should effect the political debate and should effect the decisions we make for the future. Things that make us angry, that make us cry are not sacrosanct. They are even more important because they tear at our very hearts.

Politics is about deciding what country we want to live in. It should be about having an honest conversation about problems and tragedies, and being able to stand up and say enough, this has to fucking stop.

That is not the same as politicizing.

I’m sick of writing posts like this. I don’t want to have to be afraid that someone I have never met with a gun and a dearth of morals or self control or mental health will end my life at a grocery store or a movie theater or a mall, or do the same to my niece when she is supposed to be in the safest of places. And because I don’t live on an island, that fear, that problem is not mine alone to solve.

Like it or not, how we solve problem together is politics.

ETA: My friend Kat has made a very good point in comments so please read that. Also, on LJ, Dan has pointed out:

I agree that it’s inherently a political issue. My problem with immediately discussing political solutions (everything from “ban all the guns now” to “if those kids had been carrying, this wouldn’t have happened”) is that people tend to make very, very bad decisions in the wake of a tragedy. “USA-PATRIOT” comes to mind.

Which is also a very, very good point. I would still say we need to take this energy and go into debate. But let it be a reasoned debate. 

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