Never Ends.

I was going to write something passionate, about gun violence, gun control and the simply incomprehensible continuation of this morbid fascination with weapons in the United States. Not that the US is alone in this; I believe all of the elements which contribute to these recurring massacres exist elsewhere, and yet the US manages to provide the perfect conditions for it to thrive—conditions which it seems reluctant to change.

 But I’ve written about this before.

 Here.

 And here.

 And here.

 And here. 

I’m at the point where I can’t get angry about it anymore, and I deliberately remove myself from the internet when they happen, because I can’t get as sad about it as I used to, either. Why bother? I think. It changes nothing. Have I really become so cynical, as I advance in years? Or is this way of turning inward, of switching the world off, just a safety mechanism, just a means of survival so the grief of this world doesn’t cause me to cave in and collapse?

 I saw the familiar anger and distraught outrage emerging on the internet and over the radio, of course. However, this time, there’s a difference I’ve noticed about the reaction to Orlando, and it is that I am not alone in my resignation. There is a sense of despair which wasn’t there after previous shootings. There is the realisation that if Sandy Hook changed nothing, why would this one be different? Despite being the biggest mass shooting in the US to date, the fact that it occurred in an LGBT nightclub, a club attended by a group of people already vilified by so many, means that this will simply be yet another shooting.

 This time, here is a sad acceptance: This is the way it is. It’ll always be this way. This changes nothing.

 That is perhaps the biggest tragedy of all. That all these deaths will be simply added to the list of names of those already gunned down, and that they will precede those who will be gunned down in the future. There have been protests and anguished pleas, but this time, there are shrugged shoulders and broken sighs, and a despondent public who finally feel they are utterly powerless to stop this disease of hate.

 So well done, NRA. Congratulations, gun manufacturers. You spread the fear and the lies and the hatred, and we are broken. We still love, we still care, but we are tired, and sad, and nothing changes, and this cycle never ends.

You win.

But before you celebrate your victory, perhaps you’d like to wash all that blood off your hands?

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The Week Links: in which our blogger eats fruit mince pies.

It’s almost Christmas! This is exciting because fruit mince pies are on special, and I’m making it my mission to sample as many as I can, so that I can recommend the very best. So far, the ones I had at the Vancouver Street Cafe come out on top, closely followed by those from Baker’s Delight. I shall see if I can find some at Dome next week. I know this information’s really only useful to about three people who read this blog, but I think that just highlights my incredible attention to detail, don’t you?

The links have been few and far between for the past few weeks, but now they’re back! Please enjoy:

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A Commonplace Cruise.

Rejoice, for I have slept through the night! Recently, a combination of our Offspring and my hacking cough have been waking me throughout the nights, and I’m definitely over it. But last night, I got almost six hours’ solid sleep. As a result, I felt like Superwoman and went out to pull weeds and plant seedlings this morning, and now, I’m about to bake a cake. Hooray, sleep!

I hope you all have an enjoyable Sunday, and that you get enough sleep.

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The Weekly Walk.

Hello, you path: ethic people!

This week, it’s all about Australia, for some reason. Hope you enjoy the links–meanwhile, on the south coast of Western Australia, it’s CHILLY and we’re eating pumpkin scones straight out of the oven, with butter on them. YUM.

Enjoy your weekend!

* * * * *

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The Other Question.

Our Prime Minster is in the United States this week, apparently meeting with various people, including President Obama. Most of us here are under no illusions that an Australian Prime Minister has anything to say which will be of much importance to the US, but our country did recently get a mention when Obama was speaking about the recent shooting(s). He spoke about Australia’s laws with respect to gun control:

“A couple of decades ago Australia had a mass shooting similar to Columbine or Newtown.” […] “And Australia just said, ‘well, that’s it … we’re not seeing that again’ and basically imposed very severe, tough gun laws and they haven’t had a mass shooting since.”

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Dear George: An Open Letter to George Zimmerman.

Dear George,

I’m sitting at my kitchen table, writing a letter which you will probably never read.  In Perth, Western Australia, where I’m at my table, it’s mid-afternoon.  In Florida, it’s early morning.  I imagine you’re either asleep, or will be soon. No court tomorrow.  It’s over.

You’re acquitted.

I can only imagine how you felt when the verdict was passed.  How did you feel?  Elated?  Relieved?  Sad?  Frightened?  Whatever the emotion, you were able to walk out of that courtroom, and go home — or at least, go somewhere that wasn’t prison.  You could be with your family, finally.  I’m sure they’ve missed you and are glad to have you back.

I’m guessing you’ve not watched the news or gone online much since you got ‘out’.  It’s probably not a bad idea to avoid them altogether, for a while.  There are a fair number of people who are… somewhat upset about the decision to let you go, after you shot and killed another person.  And there is a whole other group that thinks you were completely justified.  I’ll let you imagine how they’re all getting along right now.

The thing is, nobody else knows what happened between you and Trayvon Martin that night.  You were there, and he was there, and he’s now dead.  So the only person in the world who knows exactly what happened is you.

Does that weigh on you?

Which were the lies or half-truths told in court?  What did they tell you to say?  What did they tell you to leave out?  Do you feel as if justice has been done… or does it leave a bad taste in your mouth?

I really want to know, because I find the whole thing so puzzling.  I live in an area where people are shot occasionally, where my neighbours deal drugs, where there are clashes between groups and gangs of different races and backgrounds, where it may or may not be safe to walk home after dark (and I’m not about to take the risk to find out).  And yet, I don’t know anyone who has a gun, let alone who walks around with one.  I can’t even imagine that there would be a law that says you’re allowed to shoot someone because you feel threatened.

I can’t imagine living in a community where you feel that the police are so unreliable or ineffectual that the Neighbourhood Watch carry guns.

I can’t imagine that kind of fear.  It borders on paranoia — except, of course, that some of them really are out to get you.

Did you think Trayvon Martin was out to get you, George?  Did you exchange racial slurs, did you fight?  Did he taunt you?  Did you fear for your life?  Do you think back, over those last minutes of his life, and do you wish, with the very fibre of your being, that things had gone differently?  That you had just walked away… that you had been somewhere else at that time, that you had never been there in the first place?

I hope you wish that.  I hope you are relieved it is over, and that you are glad for your freedom, but I hope you feel regret and remorse, and that you wish it had never happened.  Because whatever happened on that night, whatever he said or did, however he made you feel… surely, it can’t have been worth all this. A death — an agonising, awful death — a trial by media, an international outrage, all because of one terrible moment.

The whole thing is a tragedy, most of which falls out of the realms of my imagination, and yet perhaps the greatest tragedy is that I can easily imagine it happening again.  Unless the culture changes, unless the laws change, unless people change.  It will happen again.  And it will be just as tragic and as pointless and as desperately sad, when it does.

 

I need to sign off, now.  I have to get dinner ready and bring in the clean washing.  In a couple of hours, you’ll be getting up, having breakfast.  Life goes on, until we die, and then it doesn’t.

You are free and alive, George.  Please, please: make your life worth something.  Make it amazing.  Make it extraordinary.  Do something else, something incredible, and good, and worthy, so that when the world hears the name ‘George Zimmerman’, they don’t just think of that guy, who killed Trayvon Martin.

 

Yours in peace,

Rebecca Bean.

 

I Can’t Believe It.

I seem to say this a lot these days. You’d think by my age, I’d be jaded and cynical enough to dispense with such exclamations of incredulity, but no. I still find myself regularly shaking my head, and mumbling, ‘I can’t believe it.’

Of course, sometimes I use it out of habit, for example:

‘I can’t believe we’re late for school, again!’

‘I can’t believe I still haven’t mopped the kitchen floor.’

‘I can’t believe it’s taking me so long to write this blog post/short story/poem/email/comment.’

Obviously, I actually can believe these things. I’m just saying that I can’t, to emphasise my frustration at not getting something I want.

But more often, lately, I find myself reading something or hearing something, which I really can’t believe. What I’m really saying, then, is ‘I don’t understand.’ Because it is so far beyond my understanding as to be beyond belief. Because it is so unjust, or callous, or unfair, or dishonest, or illogical, or any or all of those things.

 
I can’t believe that despite our prime minister being an unmarried atheist, who lives with her long-term partner, she has yet to come out in favour of gay marriage. I can’t believe that so many politicians really think it is going to affect our society, that it is going to somehow impact the marriages of straight couple. Really? Do they really think that? I can’t believe how many politicians are getting away with being able to suggest that gay couples who want to marry are somehow sexual deviants who also engage in illegal activities. I can’t believe the obsession with what people do in the bedroom. Aren’t we over that yet?

I can’t believe we still rely so greatly on fossil fuels. We have known for decades that they’re running out and that they pollute the place. I can’t believe that we’ve not managed to develop better photovoltaic and battery technology, or more efficient windmills. I know we’re getting there, but it is taking So. Damned. Long. I can’t believe companies which make millions upon millions every year are not able to try harder, are not able to take a financial hit for a short time so that we can look forward to a cleaner future. I can’t believe this just doesn’t seem to be a priority.

Still.

Even after years and years of knowing that we need to change.

I can’t believe…

that someone can walk into a primary school and shoot 20 very small children dead, plus the teachers who were trying to protect them. I can’t believe that this tragedy can be downplayed or that discussion thereof can be quashed for the sake of ‘respect to the victims’ because someone might talk about the guns. I can’t believe that sweeping gun reforms are not being signed into law THIS VERY MINUTE. I can’t believe that there is mass-shooting upon mass-shooting in the US and the general response seems to be the shrugging of one’s shoulders and a resigned sigh of, ‘Well. Watcha gonna do?’ I can’t believe that children can lie on the floors of their classroom, bleeding to death, and that someone’s right to own a powerful, semi-automatic weapon is more important than the right of those children to go to school one Friday and live to see the weekend.

The thing is, I’m fairly open to changing my beliefs. I’m not saying I change my mind on a whim, rather, if your beliefs are different to mine, and then you explain to me why you believe what you do, why it’s rational and logical and why It makes sense, and I’m convinced, I will change what I believe. I might wriggle uncomfortably and complain bitterly, but I’ll do it.

And every day, I’m hearing arguments against so, so many things: against gay marriage, against investment in renewable energy, against tighter gun control. And I’m not convinced. These arguments are riddled with every fallacy in the book – straw man, slippery slope, bad analogy – and they do not go even close to making a good case as to why I should change my mind.  I can’t believe they’re not trying harder.

I suppose it is lazy politics; it is irresponsible leadership; it is rhetoric and spin. It is people saying not what they really think, not what others want them to say, but what those who give them money or influence want them to say. It must be that people are doing and saying things, not for the good of others, not to prevent deaths or promote happiness or to even foster an environment where life could thrive, but to ensure their own positions of power.

Wow.

I guess I’m cynical and jaded enough after all, because that, I can believe.