When Activism and Money are At Odds

I had an epiphany today, which was very uncomfortable admitting.

In the wake of the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub called Pulse on Saturday, June 11, like everyone I know, I am reflecting and I am angry. It's pretty clear the gunman (I refuse to say his name) targeted Pulse because it was considered a Gay club. This is particularly ugly for me because the majority of those killed were Puerto Rican. Having chosen Puerto Rico as my home, and realizing I am as little as two degrees of separation from some of the victims, it's all a little too real for me.

Mass shootings occur and we get angry and feel unsafe. I dislike the idea of referring to them as trending but as tacky as that term is, there seems to be an escalation in them over the past few years. I remember being shocked by Columbine, but with each new one, I am no longer shocked. Dismayed and angry, but not shocked.

We use social media and blogs to express our anger. We get into arguments with folks who feel it's their right to own weapons no ordinary citizen needs to posses. Some of those folks take it a step further than they need to go. For example, in January 2016, after President Obama announced plans to restrict gun use, with, he said, an eye on reducing gun violence. Leaving aside the fact that since then the United States has experienced dozens of mass shootings (most don't make the news) equating the systematic stripping away of their rights (as they phrase it) with locking up the Japanese in internment camps during World War II is taking things too far.

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We get angry. We are divided or in most cases we find like-minded people to bond with over our anger, sorrow and feelings of being unsafe.

13435326_1159064394186613_5648107841942932940_nWe share memes that call on congress and the president to ban assault weapons. Nothing happens but we get a whole lot of platitudes. The president speaks out, and in an election cycle, the candidates speak out. Your candidate's comments may or may not reflect your views and you may or may not feel better.

In a few days or weeks things return to a sort of normal ... until the next mass shooting.

But what changes? We (those of us who are against ordinary citizens owning and having access to assault weapons) share other memes about countries that long ago took a stand on this issue and yet nothing is done in the United States.

Why?

Here's my epiphany and trust me, I'm not comfortable admitting it (and please forgive my really long run on sentence!): in the same way the EU and South American countries have banned GMOs & RoundUp, yet the United States is deeply in bed with Monsanto, and not only don't ban them, but President Obama appointed the former CEO of Monsanto to the position of food and safety czar; in the same way we cry each time another person becomes addicted to opiates but the big Pharma who makes it (I'm pretty sure it's Merck) continues to make them and then the onus is placed on prescribing doctors to police it, not the drug company itself, and in the same way we know the meat consumed was raised in the cruelest and most unsanitary conditions (which, by the way, are the leading cause of climate change) and yet no regulations are placed on the factory "farmers," all the deaths resulting from assault weapons will continue to be "addressed," as it were, by politicians because they (the politicians) are in bed with big Pharma, big Ag, Monsanto and the makers of guns.

There's a lot of money in weapon-making. The US didn't get to be the most powerful nation on earth by being altruistic. It got that way manufacturing weapons and going to war, frequently.

Profit over people is what we are looking at. I wish I were wrong, but I see no evidence I am.

We routinely ask, "how many more have to die before the president or congress acts?" The answer is, there is no answer. So while I am absolutely disgusted by the mass shooting in Orlando, wish Congress and the President would give us more than platitudes when we say there is no reason anyone should have access to assault weapons, I know this all falls on deaf ears.