There Are No Words…

Walmart, El Paso, Texas. The Oregon District, Dayton, Ohio. Odessa, Texas.

Once more we shudder. Carnage and chaos rule. Three more cities join the long list of trauma victims. I huddle in front of the television and cry.

There are no words.

A week later, my husband and I make our way to downtown Dayton. The faces of the dead look out above  white crosses, their names printed in black. And, there, among the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the friends and lovers, each one somebody’s child, I spot a familiar young man who once walked the high school halls when I taught, gone too soon, as all are gone too soon, the victims of these awful acts.

There are no words.

Flowers plug the bullet hole in Ned Pepper’s window. We stand in front of the diminished memorial. Someone has consolidated the condolences and keepsakes, packed them away until a more permanent memorial can be built. They, like our memories, will be stored for future moments of mourning.  A woman holding a child asks me for a pen. I offer one. A man paws my sleeve. He needs one, too. We scrawl our names on the poster, ink platitudes that fail to capture the anguish in our hearts.

There are no words.

Eager for human contact, the man shares his story. Twenty-four hours out of prison and back on the street. No one cares, he says., asks, “How do you spell strong?” I take his hand. Tell him I care. Remind him that he has a second chance. I don’t know if he believes me. I don’t know if I do.

There are no words.

We struggle to leave. The beautiful faces of these beautiful souls stare into the noonday bustle. Gone at the point of a gun. Gone to hate and fear. Gone beyond us now. I need to hold a hand, to hug a child, to wipe the tears that cloud my eyes. I want to pound the sidewalk and demand stronger laws, deliver an end to the culture of violence that consumes our country. But who will listen? Those who think like I do already raise their voices. Those who refuse to see will not. I am sad and angry and searching for a way to reset the pattern.

There are no words.

But there is action. DO SOMETHING, the crowd shouts when the governor comes to speak. DO SOMETHING the Eagles sing in a plaintive song about making a difference. DO SOMETHING the nation cries. Politicians waver. The status quo prevails. It falls to us to make the change we want to see. Thank you, Ghandi, for showing the way. No more words.

Write a letter.

Call a politician.

Demonstrate.

Donate to groups working for sensible laws.

Run for office.

Vote.

Let the chorus of our actions speak for us.

No more words. Do something.

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