vigil

Highland Park Strong


Ed note: The last section of this post – The Community – was added after the video recording was completed. Scroll down and check it out. It was a most moving ceremony.


Last Wednesday evening, the 6th of July, I attended a vigil. It was just 2 days after the Highland Park massacre. Sitting next to me in the over-crowded sanctuary was a woman who had traveled from West Rogers Park in Chicago to be with her daughter who lives in Highland Park. She had a thick Eastern European accent and fear in her eyes.

She made it clear that she feels the weight of the danger and the evil that assaulted all of us on July 4th and she asked me, “Who will save us?” I thought about her profound question for a few moments and then realized the answer. I told her, “We will.”

That isn’t new or insightful. It’s simply the way it’s always been. The cavalry isn’t going to come over the hill, so we have to save ourselves.

I wrote last Wednesday about what I believe the shooter hoped to accomplish and that topic deserves more attention. It’s reasonable to assume that he saw himself as having been victimized by people in his town. We don’t know who he imagined were his victimizers, but judging by the random nature of his shooting, it didn’t matter to him. He was quite content to shoot anybody in sight. And that makes fine pathological sense, because one of the things we know about victims is that most often they victimize others, often randomly.

He wanted to stop hearts and injure people. He accomplished that. And he wanted to break your heart so that you would suffer pain as payback for whatever grievances he holds so tightly. He accomplished that, too.

And that’s the point upon which everything turns: We have it in our power to heal our hearts and take action and thereby ensure he remains the loser.

I wrote that we must never let the bad guys win and I believe that way deep down inside. The way to make sure the bad guys don’t win is to save ourselves, to hold one another in love and community. And it’s to take action. The way for us to win and make the bad guys lose is to be what the signs and T-shirts say:

Highland Park Strong

just like

Boston Strong

just like

Waukesha Strong

and Uvalde Strong

and Buffalo Strong

and Parkland Strong

and Sandy Hook Strong

and all the rest.

I’m not at a point where I can entertain forgiveness. The hurt is too close and too strong and I’m just not that evolved. But I am definitely committed to being strong in the face of this and every mass horror – strong for myself and others, strong for our community and strong for our country. I will not let the bad guys win.

From Lee Goodman, head of Peaceful Communities, Inc:

We will seek comfort and healing, and we will support one another and our communities.

The one thing we cannot do is give up.

We are in this together. We will stand strong together and we will find safety together, including for that frightened woman from West Rogers Park. We will hold vigils and we will hold hands. And we will find the way to save ourselves from those who would hurt us. Here’s how.

Activist Nancy Kohn makes it clear that our safety will come as a result of electing people who will do the will of We The People – things like enacting laws with teeth to protect us from those who would do us harm. She wrote,

Congressman Eric Swalwell reminds us that the NRA, which he rightly calls an evil terrorist organization, doesn’t cast any votes in Congress. Senators and Representatives cast votes, and they can only do that [cast the right votes] if we elect them. In the end, our votes are the most powerful weapon we can yield. We have taken small, but important steps toward sensible gun safety laws. It’s time to elect people who will do much, much more.
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Click here for a must watch explainer.
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If you want a list of the key Senate races that need your support, contact Nancy. To read her current post and to subscribe to her NKC Occasional Update (highly recommended), click here.
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We will not give up, we will not give in. We will not let the bad guys harden our hearts or continue to use our communities as shooting galleries. And we won’t let them chip away at our country. We will vote and we will encourage others to vote and we’ll support the right candidates so that we come to be represented by people who stand for America, not the gun lobby.

The Community

Just a fraction of the community who came out – for the community

Yesterday, July 9, I attended another vigil, this one in a park in Highland Park. Maybe it was a healing. Maybe it was a grieving. For sure it was a community come together to face truth. Make no mistake, there was a lot of anger over the wrong done to so many people.

Rep.Brad Schneider (D-IL 10) called out the names of the murdered and told a bit about each of them so that we would know and remember that these weren’t statistics. These were real people who lived and loved, who were unjustly killed and who continue to live in the hearts of so many.

Rep. Schneider in the black shirt

The youngest of the injured is an 8-year-old boy, now with a severed spine. This is brutal and cruel and real stuff. So, keep the injured in your heart, too.

And keep in your heart the first responders, the police and fire, the ambulance folks, the county professionals, the Chicago specialists, and the FBI and ATF people. because they were face-to-face with the horrible truth lying in blood on the street and sidewalks. I doubt if any of those folks is sleeping well. Next time you see one of them, thank them for what they did and for what they do every day.

There are so many pieces to this ongoing threat to all of us. Most of these horrific shootings are done by 18 – 21 year olds. I don’t have any idea how to deal with this, but once again I ask, “Where the hell have the killer’s parents been for the past two decades?”

Beyond that we have so much to deal with. This is not a single solution problem. The parts include over 20 million assault weapons in America and that they are easier for an 18-year-old to buy than a pack of cigarettes; the total, undeserved protection from liability of the gun industry; our sieve-like system of background checks; the red flag laws that don’t red flag much of anything; the almost nonexistent requirement for proper firearms training and so much more.

That’s why you’re going to contact your state representative and senator and your congressional representative and senators and demand action. Contact Moms Demand Action and ask what you can do to help.

One more time: We will vote and we will encourage others to vote and we’ll support the right candidates so that we come to be represented by people who stand for America, not the gun lobby.

WE STAND HIGHLAND PARK STRONG!
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Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
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Fire the bastards!
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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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