Fuck this, you guys.
Wait. Is nothing sacred?
How can you, and particularly as a minister, audaciously claim THAT word in the name of public faith?
I claim it because some things are indeed sacred, starting with being able to worship and learn and celebrate without fear of being shot to death in a nation in which the SOCIAL CONTRACT is currently BURNING in the halls of power.
I claim it because we know that faith means the power to bless, and we forget that we wield the equally important responsibility to curse: that which opposes the inherent worth and dignity of human life; that which steals hope; that which opposes, in short, the calling of God.
I claim it because this ongoing carnage is against my religion.
And so, you’re right. We should have a conversation about acceptable dialogue in the public square.
Here is how this is gonna go:
If you are more concerned about my saying the eff word—no, fuck that. If you are more concerned about my saying ‘fuck,’ and by concerned I mean moved to say something to me about it, than you are inspired to action by the slaughter of six and sixteen and sixty year olds who are doing things like going to kindergarten and attending a concert and, you know, praying, and by inspired to action I mean that you are actively saying something to power about it, then you are part of the problem.
Ouch, right? Those are fighting words. Fuck, and You are part of the problem: two things we don’t have the stomach for in upper middle class white America.
I am so sorry to have to tell you that your baby/husband/wife/father didn’t make it, though, said to a thousand someones you don’t know and maybe a couple you do: that for some reason does not make us physically ill at this moment.
But it should, you guys. It really, really should.
And so I’m starting this post with fuck and also writing it a lot of fucking times right in the fucking middle because I would like us to notice what it feels like to be uncomfortable.
What it costs.
Where we feel it.
The thing is, friends, I used to think that there would come a moment when the balance would tip and more of us would know what some of us know—
That you are not safe, not anywhere, not ever, from mass casualty gun violence
That you are safe from your neighbors, even the ones who are different from you
That an incredible amount of money is invested each year to oppose and obfuscate those two realities so that you ignore the first and are terrified of the latter
That more guns only add to the reality of the first proposition.
… I used to think that then, in that tipping point, the larger We that lies at the core of American-style democracy, or that did, or that survives in our dreams, that this collective force would begin to assert itself, spontaneously and passionately. That WE would begin to act purposefully and effectively.
Friends, I don’t think that anymore, and here are the two reasons why:
First, because comfort is the ultimate slot-machine payout of privilege.
Not worrying about X or Y or Z . . . indeed, not thinking about it at all, which necessarily precludes discussing it or the drag of hearing about it on Facebook or considering underlying themes (unless rendered harmless and third-person as fodder for the book group, addressed in two-hour increments, merlot in hand)—this elysian existence is the ultimate grand prize of “making it.”
And talking about gun violence is fucking uncomfortable as hell. It’s uncomfortable because it makes people sad. It’s uncomfortable because people are going to disagree. It’s uncomfortable because your uncle Joe and that one guy from high school are going to act as corporate shills of the NRA, because the NRA pays fucking millions every year to ensure that the right and privilege here is defending their coffers and calling it “freedom.”
It’s uncomfortable because the reality is that at this moment in this country you might fucking die in any goddamned random public place, or in a private place if your misogynistic loved one also has a gun, and who wants to think about that?
Comfort, my peeps, is both the dream we chase and the slow narcotic drip that we use to justify all the not-seeing. And as its beneficiaries, we are loathe to contemplate, much less voluntarily enter into, the discomfort that we imagine to be the permanent price of challenging the status quo that got us here.
So that’s a problem.
It’s a big fucking problem.
And it’s not the only thing that’s troubling me.
Because the second problem is that actions are reflexive, which might seem hopeful in that we could move quickly at any point, but it isn’t, because it actually means that we are likely to move only in the ways that we can easily manage under stress:
- What we ourselves have previously practiced
- what we’ve seen modeled
- What is rooted in the fundamental reflexes of our reptilian brains
That’s it. When push comes to shove, that’s what we’re working with.
And it’s fucking not enough.
I want you to practice something different.
For me, yes, and for our democracy, by which I mean not fucking consumer capitalism, but the social contract in which I still have so much hope. I want you to practice differently for your fucking children, and I want you to practice differently for mine.
I want you to imagine a day when I can hold fucking worship without half an eye on the fucking door because I am responsible in that hour not just for your immortal souls BUT FOR ALL OF YOUR GODDAMNED LIVES.
And so, I have created a handy practice guide. I was going to make it 100 things but I thought that might be a little fucking overwhelming. Then I thought of three, but then you might think you have to do them all at the same fucking time. And that’s not what I’m saying.
What we are going for instead is simply a movement toward something OTHER THAN THIS FUCKING INSANITY. From each one of us. The isolation and then the flexing and eventually the building and strengthening of OUR MUSCLES OF COLLECTIVE RESISTANCE.
Here, my friends, are FIVE fucking things that even you can do to end the fucking slaughter in our fucking public spaces:
- Call your local elected representatives one time per week and tell them you are for fucking gun control.
- Call your state elected representatives one time per week and tell them that you don’t care about the NRA Scorecard because you are for fucking gun control.
- Say fuck this on social media and explain to your circle of influence that you are for fucking gun control.
- The next time your uncle Joe or that random guy from high school shuts down a conversation about how we can fucking move on this issue, TELL YOURSELF that their perspective is a fucking hack. Which it is. Maintain hope. Maintain Hope. Maintain hope.
- LEVEL UP NINJA MOVE: The next time your uncle Joe or that random guy from high school shuts down a conversation about how we can fucking move on this issue, name the thing that they are doing as PEDDLING IN HOPELESSNESS AT THE EXPENSE OF LIVES and say fuck that. Know that while you do this, you are modeling courage and showing his and your public that we will not allow the conversation to be stopped with this inanity.
Bonus #6: Join Moms Demand Action*. Prepare for the movement. Prepare to make change.
This carnage: it is against my religion.
(by which I mean holy fucking fire),
*Yes, even if you’re not a fucking mom. Jesus Christ.