A wounded animal fights. When cornered it attacks its enemy with ferocity, with all the strength it has left because it’s now or never, it must defeat the threat to its life. Only primal survival matters.
As a nation drowning in the blood of innocents because of the easy availability of guns, unique to America, and as Santa Monicans seeing our cherished, special city being sold off to profiteers and turned into a place few of us will still want to call home, we are fighting for our lives and for our home. Anger is a very appropriate response, and maybe the only one that will break people’s apathy. Righteous anger. Controlled and directed. I’ve been writing about that for three weeks now, coming to the understanding that something must radically change if we are to have a chance to survive, and that collective anger, mobilized in overwhelming numbers, may be our only path to saving that which we love.
“Don’t write about the process.” There are a few cardinal rules of writing for publication, and that is one of them. It’s usually a rookie mistake. You might think for the moment that people will be interested, but they’re not. You’re supposed to make that process invisible. But I’m choosing to share this observation now anyway, because something unusual about some columns I’ve written has happened again — I think — and I have no idea how or why and I take no credit, but I think it’s pretty interesting and maybe somehow significant and useful.
I don’t know what word to use. Forgive me if this all sounds pretentious as hell. But I never would have imagined this: a number of my columns have been… so unexpectedly on the mark by the time they hit newsprint, when they were the very ones I thought would get me in so much trouble for being out there, extreme, unreasonable. But the next day’s headlines or the next moment’s social media showed me I wasn’t alone and was unknowingly giving voice to many like-minded souls. I’m always a bit shocked, and breathe a sigh of relief when I see I’m not the only one. These of course are ideas I did not invent, just reported and analyzed.
It has happened again, I think. I have spent the last three columns trying to convince readers that in City Hall and in DC, an entirely new approach is our only hope. That because of the ungodly amounts of corrupting money involved, and the entrenched politics, we must tap into our collective anger at what is wrong, to make radical, needed change.
Am I advocating screaming at our representatives? No. Well… If they continue to refuse to listen to us, we must be even more insistent. We must not accept for another minute the same old ways that have gotten us to this unthinkable place. Our governments have failed us. Polite petition or even protest is dismissed, even large numbers are ignored. We are invisible and mute to our “leaders.” Something has to change, for our voices to be heard.
Then hallelujah, out of the most heart wrenching tragedy imaginable, we see how it can be done, must be done. The children shall lead us.
THE ABSOLUTELY AMAZING STUDENTS
Of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, 14 miles north of where I was born. Rather than being crushed by the terror they are living through, the survivors have stood up angry and aware of the power that is uniquely theirs to seize, and they are looking us in the eye and saying it is a new day, the old rules are gone, we will not live under this shroud of fear, it is not right, we will not accept this, we will build an army and you will reckon with us. They are riveting, completely authentic, resolute in their righteous anger, so clear in their speaking out and, more importantly, their actions. I would bet anything that they will follow through, for the rest of their lives. And will have many join them. I believe, for the first time, that this time is different, because it is the students, there and across the nation, who now clearly understand they are fighting for their very lives.
I have been thrilled and moved to tears listening to them over the weekend, speaking from a place of unfathomable shock and horror, that you can hear, palpably feel, in their anguished voices that seem always a moment away from being cut off by a flood of tears — but are not. They continue with what they must say. It’s a determination that is completely credible, in these 14- to 17-year-olds.
They are rooted in political reality and they are very well informed. Senior Emma Gonzales called out Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa by name Saturday, as “the sole sponsor on this bill that stops the FBI from performing background checks on people adjudicated to be mentally ill.” Another senior said he knows there must be compromise in politics, and to get all they want may take decades, but that they are up to it, the process must start immediately, and it must be bipartisan.
I believe these young people, and I believe in them. We must mount the same kind of movement here in Santa Monica, perhaps led by “seniors” rather than seniors. I don’t want to lose one more life to guns, and I don’t want to lose Santa Monica.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “We are prepared to call BS. Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS. They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.” — Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior Emma Gonzales, addressing a gun control rally in Ft. Lauderdale Saturday.
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 32 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else
in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com