“All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth come only from the senses.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche.
My parents struggled financially, most of their married lives. They probably had more disposable income after they retired, than during their working lives. Of course, being a minister of the church was not a well reimbursed career, but there were other benefits. We grew up with enough, never too much, but nor did we go hungry. It is good to grow up with an awareness that hard work is required to achieve goals; that things like a good education is what will help you to be successful. My mother’s jewelry box tended to have more costume jewelry than anything else, she prized emotional attachment to pieces over their resale value. She had a collection of brooches (who wears those any more?) which she wore more than other accessories.
Perhaps because of being a nurse, I rarely wear more than a pair of earrings myself. Dangling necklaces, bracelets, multiple rings, all complicate the life of a bedside nurse who is washing hands frequently, and providing care. Same goes for manicured nails, although it is hard to convince student nurses that these things are inappropriate, potentially unhygienic and dangerous when worn to the clinical site, especially when the nurses they are seeing are flashing bling and acrylics and false eyelashes!
As a young mother with little disposable income myself, I would treat myself mostly to silver earrings – pretty but inexpensive. I fell in love with a stone once, seen in a necklace in a store in St. Thomas, and I splurged. It was ammonite, a multi-colored semi-precious gem surrounded by tiny diamonds, and I had to have it. It comes from the fossil ammolite, and flashes like fire with deep oranges, blues and greens. Unfortunately, I left it behind in a hotel room and never found it again. Which I decided was teaching me the Buddhist lesson of non-attachment: it is attachment (to things, or outcomes) that causes suffering, when you are not attached you do not suffer when things don’t turn out the way you hoped, or when you lose things. You enjoyed them while they were there, now they’re gone. It is why Buddhist monks create amazing sand mandalas, spending days pouring colored sand into beautiful designs, only to blow them away after completion. They remind us that life is impermanent, that nothing lasts forever.
After the US has had to confront evidence of its violent and destructive habits yet again, and the resultant tragedy for countless families, you hear a lot about what can be done to arrest this senseless loss of lives. We are a society that values the freedom to own a gun over the lives of children. A society that permits the sale of weapons of murder. A government that fears the gun lobby and weapons manufacturers more than it respects the lives lost to gun violence. It is a national disgrace. This week Amnesty International put out a travel advisory against the USA. It particularly warned that ‘depending on the traveler’s gender identity, race, country of origin, ethnic background, or sexual orientation they may be at higher risk of being targeted’. For those of us who live here, what do we tell our children and grandchildren regarding their daily risk level?
One of the cries is for ‘common sense’ gun laws. But it seems to me that common sense is not so common any more. I remember the first ward I worked on as a student nurse, and the almost retired Ward Sister informed me that it takes common sense to be a nurse! When teaching dosage calculation to new students, I try to remind them that we use basic math to solve problems every day, it is basic common sense. We chide our children for making errors in judgment, ‘where is your common sense?’ There certainly seems to be a shortage of common sense among our legislators, they seem to be motivated purely by re-election metrics and lobbyists.
If common sense is not common, if it is now precious, rare, hard to find, it is incumbent upon us to do everything we can to bring about change. There are many avenues for donating to the cause, and money is always a useful tool for any activist. But we need to do more. It begins at the ballot box, in electing people of conscience. And when those who are elected need to be reminded of what the majority of the country supports, we need to place calls. If you don’t know how to contact your state representatives, here is a website to go to: https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm Just enter your state and their names and phone numbers are right there.
There is plenty of work to be done, and plenty has been done. There are many groups that have worked on best practices, on evidence-based programs to reduce gun violence. But when there is no action to implement these practices, when the drive to change the status quo fails, it makes it certain that we will be having these conversations again. It is as if we have normalized these acts, have come to accept them. There is even a playbook for mayors to use when they have to deal with the aftermath of such events. But as they say, all that it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. We cannot, in good conscience, do nothing. We must use our precious sense and do something.
On this Friday morning, I remain hopeful as ever that change is possible, that we are better than this. We cannot see this as something that happens to others. It is happening to us. We are the parents, the grandparents. We are the teachers, the children. We cannot rely on hopes, prayers, thoughts, we have to make our voices known to push those in the position to do something to hear our voice when their own conscience is silent. We must.
Have a wonderful weekend, Family! May your precious sense be in full force!