By: Joe D’Amore – Oct. 2017
As I write this, countless families and friends of the victims of the Las Vegas massacre are now receiving the bodies, released from official coroners after a week of inexplicable tragedy. Sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, family members and friends felled in the prime of their lives in a moment of joy are finally returning home after a week that must surely have felt like eternity for many. The funerals will begin a new phase of a life turned upside down for so many. Closure at best is marginal for anyone. The suffering also extends to those injured and their loved ones.
For some of us prayer is a very significant and meaningful way to express our sorrows and condolences. It is a way to petition our God for granting peace in the hearts of those affected. And when this is done, publicly coupled with a moment of silence, it is the only way to demonstrate to those who are in the throes of unimaginable grief that they are not alone. It is an undeniable form of respect for life and those living. There isn’t a more powerful way to demonstrate love for strangers in their moment of need and to express unity with them.
For House Representative Seth Moulton and Senator Elizabeth Warren however, these basic concepts of human decency are absent from their public life. Warren callously tweeted “…prayers and moments of silence are NOT enough” . Moulton created a public spectacle by declining to observe a moment of silence on the floor of the U.S. House of Representative in protest of inaction on gun control.
Their irresponsible actions are not representative of many people they supposedly “represent”. At the hour when families were resigning to a new reality and while others were praying that perhaps the notice of the passing of their loved one was a mistake, they failed to exercise the quintessential evidence of exemplary leadership in trying times: Humility.
I wonder if they were to be so courageous in protesting against an unacceptable war. Would they engage in the same behavior on the holy grail of social justice? Would they not salute the flag to honor men and women in harm’s way? Would they disrespect veterans by not observing a moment of silence for the fallen? Would they “draw a line in the sand “ with a tweet that victimizes people that have sacrificed?
Somewhere in the translation I fail to see how effective leadership is predicated on offending people when they are broken hearted.
And when it comes to protesting who or what are they protesting to? It is far more difficult to affect legislative change by bi-partisan action, negotiation and promoting sensible public policy responses. And the hour to do so should follow when the families have at least the tentative beginnings of closure such as funeral or a return home of someone injured. Rather than resorting to badly-timed, offensive and ineffective theatrics, they should take inventory of their working relationships in congress and lead a necessary sea change in gun control.
I don’t know if the representative and senator have a spiritual bearing. What I do see clearly is they are very passionate people. And people with passion have hearts. I have prayed they and everyone else in congress use the backdrop of this tragedy as a time for unity. I pray that they follow the promptings in their hearts, whether morally based or spiritually guided, to hold at bay their political impulses and do what is right by the American people.
Our representative and senator have a marvelous opportunity to lead this effort because they come from Massachusetts. And Massachusetts has set a national standard that was recently praised by Nevada officials for responsible, balanced gun control. We’re not perfect but we have several things in good order that can be modeled nationally. In this state we have universal background checks, child safety rules and comprehensive regulation of large capacity firearms and magazines.
Though no deaths should be the ultimate goal, Massachusetts can claim the lowest gun fatality rate of all 50 states; about 3 per thousand. In 2014 Massachusetts enacted wide-sweeping legislation that provided rules and enforcement guidance for background checks for all private gun sales and access to a national instant criminal background database. This also included a vital check and sharing of pertinent mental health information.
There is plenty to take comfort from our own state that we have good controls in place. But ultimately it is a dangerous world and you can’t legislate evil completely out of our lives. At the very least our passionate and articulate senators have an opportunity to lead with a tail wind of legislative accomplishments from their own state. Not unlike healthcare and education, Massachusetts’s home-grown legislative accomplishments should be made conspicuous on Capitol Hill. It’s time to promote them in open forum in a spirit of cooperation and set aside destructive politicizing that creates a public policy void that keeps us all in more danger than we need to be.
Joe D’Amore writes from Groveland