On July 4, a day that normally calls for celebration, my social media feeds were filled with people refusing to participate.
A meme that kept coming back: “Frankly, I don’t think America deserves a birthday party this year.”
Why was I on social media instead of swimming in the ocean, hiking, or playing catch with my dog?
Because I was tired. Physically and emotionally exhausted. COVID-19 had recently knocked me down. The present state of this country keeps me there.
The Supreme Court snatched the right to bodily autonomy that Americans have enjoyed for nearly half a century, allowing states to force 10-year-old girls who have been raped to carry pregnancies to term. The court made it clear that it was against any restrictions on gun ownership. It overturned the Environmental Protection Agency‘s ability to regulate polluters. And if the past is prologue, it will certainly further weaken the Voting Rights Act, outlaw the use of race as a factor in college admissions, and highlight the Clean Water Act.
The president who brought democracy to its knees is increasingly vocal about running again, even as the Jan. 6 congressional committee revelations make it clear he should never again be allowed near the oval office.
I don’t even have enough energy to hate everyone I know wandering around Tuscany and Provence right now, viciously posting their ridiculously beautiful snaps on Instagram and Facebook.
I want to sleep for 10 hours, take long naps, and lose myself in TV shows and movies that help me stop obsessing over how our world is spinning backwards.
But it is impossible to avoid the maddening flood of bad news.
On Sunday, I read that another young black man, Jayland Walker, was shot and killed by police in Akron, Ohio, after arresting him for a traffic or equipment violation. ‘a vehicle. Eight officers reportedly fired 90 rounds at him as he fled on foot, unarmed. Walker, 25, was hit by as many as 60 bullets, according to his family’s attorney.
How can this keep happening?
I was shaken by a news photo of a 13-year-old Javon Williams crying in the arms of a minister during a march to protest Walker’s murder. The pain on the boy’s face left me lifeless, much like I was when I saw a photo of two 14-year-old boys who had perished in an airless trailer in Texas with over 50 other souls migrants in search of a better life. .
Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott salted the wound by blaming President Joe Biden and saying Biden’s “open border” policy was responsible for the deaths. But tell me, Governor, why would anyone need to hide in a trailer if we have open borders?
On Monday, when I saw news reports of the horror that descended on Americans lining the sidewalks of Highland Park, Illinois, to watch their hometown’s Independence Day parade, I felt a kind of spiritual numbness that I have rarely experienced.
Yet another young man, armed with a weapon of war, killed strangers for no reason. Our new normal.
Chicago Sun-Times Washington bureau chief Lynn Sweet attended the parade with her family and posted a photo of a bloody sidewalk after the massacre. The photograph, however, was difficult to decipher.
As she explained in an essay published Tuesday, “There was so much blood, the pool of blood was lumpy because there was already so much clotted blood. The shape of the blood – was it a twisted Rorschach test? – looked like a handgun to me. I go into this gruesome detail because that’s what gun violence looks like from a rapid-fire weapon with a seemingly high-capacity magazine.
Sweet’s image is probably the closest we’ve ever come to witnessing the carnage resulting from America’s love affair with guns. I don’t think much will change until we see the pictures of what happens when a bullet fired from an assault weapon hits a human being. DNA must often be used to identify bodies.
Peter Sagal, host of the NPR quiz show “Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” tweeted that he had walked through the parade route 45 minutes before the mass shooting, passing many armed police in body armor. “Good guys with guns every six feet,” he wrote, belying the National Rifle Association’s misleading slogan.
In the aftermath of the Highland Park Massacre, which followed the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, and that in Buffalo, New York, an Associated Press photographer captured a startling scene.
It shows a Lake County police officer walking down a sidewalk in Highland Park littered with empty strollers and abandoned camping chairs.
Both hands cover his face, as if he can’t stand what he’s seeing.
Who among us can?
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