The Olympics have been wonderful. My husband and I have been hauling tray tables to the front of the TV every night. We guiltily indulge in sports watching while eating even though we frequently denied our children this indulgence when they were small. We pull out the tables, carry in plates of food and happily watch the best athletes in the world slide, ski, race, jump, skate and fly through the air apparently supported mostly by dreams and determination.
We have watched so much that I am starting to recognize the tiny pulse of time when each athlete finishes gathering the force needed to execute some impossible feat and then moves to the moment of actual performance. There is a small beat of time for each competitor.
The ski jumper reaches the end of the ramp.
The snow boarder pushes with all her strength to ride vertically up the side of the half pipe to launch sixty feet into the air.
Skaters cut deeply into the ice with their blades before producing jaw dropping complicated jumps and turns.
All these cresting moments of gathering strength, speed and resolve lead to the performance of an impressive action. Flips, turns, acceleration and flight.
But sometimes there is crashing failure.
As a country in a battle over second amendment rights we are also reaching our crescendo now.
I sense the possibilities. Maybe we will gather these forces, these flexing muscles and this desire for resolution and we will accomplish the seemingly impossible.
Maybe we will soar through the air and achieve tougher gun regulations and a safer world for all of us.
I still think it’s possible to perform this trick. Maybe after so many horrifying failures and losses, we are fortified with enough knowledge and understanding to accomplish our goal.
I hope we can achieve something amazing. But sometimes even superbly trained athletes fail, and the failure is massive and damaging.
As a country we are sixty feet in the air now. If we fail to enact gun control we are going to suffer a terrible damaging plunge. I imagine an accelerating loss of control. Instead of fewer armed individuals I fear we will end up with more.
If more non-violent, well-meaning, peaceful people fear for their safety, they might also start to feel the need to be armed.
I am one of those peaceful people myself. For the first time I am truly wondering whether I would feel less worried about my own safety and the safety of my family if I were to carry just a small handgun on a daily basis. Just a small one, in case it becomes necessary.
I need to be prepared for that sixty foot fall. I’m afraid we might land in a society where we rely on weapons to keep safe instead of the rule of law.
I don’t want to be armed. I’ve never wanted to be armed and even thinking of this possibility is terrifying. Because it makes me wonder what the people around me are thinking.
Maybe the woman in the check-out line tapping her foot impatiently is carrying a gun in her purse. Perhaps the young man repeatedly checking his phone during the movie is armed. The truck driver who has been cut off on the highway. The rude man in the phone store. People lose their tempers every day. I can’t imagine they will be any less scary when losing their tempers with guns on hand.
We are not militias preparing to defend our country. We are not sportsmen trying to put dinner on the table for our families.
We are just scared of what the person next to us is thinking.
It is time to gather our forces. Determination, strength and resolve have taken us to this crucial moment. Which way will we go?
We can produce something meaningful, or we can fail and plunge back to earth.
This is our moment.
Gun safety now.