The word “freedom” elicits emotion, feelings of patriotism, becomes a political rallying call and its byproduct, despite is glorious vision, sometimes becomes a divider. That division can be in societies, cultures, and in some cases geographies. We have seen this in the failure of realistic gun legislation in the United States.
Regulating gun ownership has never been about taking people’s right to own a gun away. It has never been about disarming the public. It has been about ensuring people owning guns are not criminals, not subject to improper use of guns due to mental illness, and very much about the general public not being proud owners of military level weapons of mass destruction. It has been to end mass shootings of innocent people. In the United States, the level of gun violence epidemic.
The freedom to own guns has evolved to be much larger than the simple “right to own” ideology. The thing about freedom is that there is no freedom without responsibility. And in reality, there is no freedom unless we all are free. By this I mean free in our bodies, free to shop and go to a movie without fear of being gunned down, free from the traumatic experience of being in a victim. If guns must be owned, then they must be secured, managed and used responsibly. We all deserve that shared freedom. We must hold ourselves and each other responsible. We are not free until we do.
I write this blog post having recently received a dramatic dose of trauma while in a small town in Michigan. We were enjoying a lovely day with loved ones. We were returning from the Lake Michigan beach area and talking about how beautiful it was, smiling, laughing and joyful, when we began to see a parade of police, first responders, ambulances, and DNR vehicles roaring into the area we were leaving. Then my phone began blowing up with those who knew we were in that area. My entire body tensed as I read the first of many texts telling us to get out of the area immediately. These people were genuinely frightened for us!
Luckily, we had just left the area when the lock down notice went into place. A mass shooting was in progress with three people injured, one critical and the alleged perpetrator at large. My entire body tensed. We were out of town and kept seeing more and more police and emergency vehicles going in. There were no straight stories in any media source until well into the following day. We were advised to get to safety and lock down, which we did after a stressful ride back to our campsite.
We finally got word on the next day that no one had died, three were injured and one critically as a result of a dispute, not a mindless massacre. It qualified as a mass shooting because there were three individuals involved. We also discovered we were exactly three blocks and a couple of minutes from actually being in the middle of the incident. The experience was profoundly underlined there is no freedom until we are all free.
While this experience illustrates a dramatic and frightening incident, traumatic stress also affects us in a million other ways through micro-aggressions, implicit biases we are both aware and unaware of, injustice, assumptions and lack of inclusion. I had a man in a recent meeting complain that he was tired of having to be “woke.” I say until we do become “woke” none of us are free.
Remember this in this time of waving flags, picnics and fireworks. And make sure the sound you are hearing is fireworks and not guns. There is no freedom, until we are all free.
I apologize this is not my usual positive, uplifting script. I was troubled and I was moved to share this discomfort. Discomfort motivates change. Because we need to.
Respectfully, and in deepest love,
Sandra L. Place