I’m interuping my usually posting to bring you this reflection. Given the nature of what has happened in the world around me, both internationally and now locally, the post originally planned is not appropriate and so I take a moment to reflect on the tragedies of this week.
I went to bed on Sunday night with my newsfeed still rumbling with anger and dissatisfaction at the sentencing of Brock Turner and the bitter debates about cursing and hexing. The heart rending details of that case as it had unfolded had been bad enough and the hope that Monday morning was the next week would be ‘better’.
It was not to be.
As well as the ongoing horrors of the Syria War and refugee crisis, of knowing somewhere there were men, women and children living in fear and danger for whatever reason in situations beyond my control or ken a new disaster occurred. The homaphobic attack on the Pulse Night Club was unfolding before my eyes. America is almost as distant in geographic terms as Syria but this attack touched me. I have strong feelings about LGBT+ and equality rights in general and I am a straight ally but what brought it closer is that I have childhood friends within the LGBT+ community now living in America. I was angry, I was upset, I was relieved and felt guilty for that feeling. The shooter is dead and, regardless of his beliefs or his own sexual orientation, beyond earthly justice but the living were left to mourn his victims and deal with the consequences of his actions.
It seemed like everyone was touched by it, in all walks of life, but it struck me most when my eldest came home and talked to me about it. She had seen an item on Newsround, something that she watches in school on a regular basis. She is well aware of the hurt in this world. She has strong, positive opinions on all the subjects I was ignorant of as a child such as war, terror and hate and her response has been to love, to welcome, to accept and to want to support in every way she can. She’s switched on to the hurts of this world both by accident and design but that night was a turning point.
That was the night she asked “are we safe mummy?”
America, in her mind, is not too remote from the UK. The majority language is English, lots of shows she watches and artists she likes are American so she felt a connection. She clearly felt that we could be at risk.
Of course I tried to reassure her. “It’s harder to get guns over here and they have to be kept locked up.” I told her. “Sometimes shootings happen but it’s rare. Daddy and I will keep you safe”.
Sometimes I should keep my mouth shut.
Since Thursday afternoon I have been watching a homegrown horror unfold. A young, vibrant and progressive MP called Jo Cox was attacked and shot outside her constituency surgery in Birstall, Leeds. Shot and killed, by a man who lived within her constituency who decided that for some reason he had the right and power to take another person’s life. These events are still unfolding and investigations are ongoing. We know the names of those involved, of those affected, but there is much we don’t know and only time will tell.
I was rocked by this. I am writing this, on the verge of tears because this terrible thing occurred in my city, to a young woman with children only a few years younger than my own who will now have to live with this mans action forever. Her politics were, by and large, my politics and in the short time she was in office I often found myself in agreement with her on many points. But one of the reasons I am upset is because I have lied.
I lied to my eldest when I said “It’s harder to get guns over here and they have to be kept locked up.” I lied when I said “Sometimes shootings happen but it’s rare.”
Thomas Mair had access to a gun, regardless of whether he has obtained it recently or hoarded thoughout the various gun amnesties such as the one immediately following the Dunblane Massacre, he had firearm and ammunition totally blowing my reassurances out of the water.
The Eldest doesn’t know much of what has happened yet, there are already too many children having to come to terms with this event as I type. When it came up all I could only repeat that we would always protect her and her sister and we would speak again when more was known.
And we will but I will raise my girls in the full knowledge of the suckiness of the world and just how cruel the people within it can be; not because I want them to fear but so they have awareness and love and tools to become a force for change.
Fowl Language posted this panel after the Pulse attacks but it still echoes true in the wake of the wake of the death of Jo Cox.
Rest Well Jo Cox, your cause was our cause and we will continue to fight the good fight. May your family feel the warmth of your love and passion from beyond the Grave and of the communities around them.
Rest Well my LGBT+ Brothers and Sisters, I didn’t know any of you but I felt your pain and passing. Lend your strength and confidence to those left behind; your family, your friends, your community, your allies as we try to rebuild and promote Love, in all its guises.
Suck on that World.