Tag Archives: gun violence

This Year’s February 14

This Year’s February 14     —by Jinny Batterson

This morning the sun rose here earlier than the day before;
The poinsettias a neighbor gave me to nursemaid
After the Christmas holidays droop a bit, but still
Lavish red and pink accents on our late-winter
Condo. My husband sneaks a colorful set of earrings
Onto my place at the breakfast table. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Only this year we add a differently sanguine tradition:
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Remembrance Day.
Last year, this morning in Florida started out routine,
Even joyous, until lives were shattered by gunfire.
Does it matter whether the gunman was mentally ill?
Does it matter that he had access to a military-style weapon,
Designed and sold for no other purpose than killing humans?

At 10:17 a.m., schools and workplaces will observe a moment
Of silence, remembering slain students Alyssa, Martin, Nicholas,
Jaime, Luke, Cara, Gina, Joaquin, Alaina, Meadow,
Helena, Alex, Carmen and Peter. We’ll ponder whether
Any of us have the bravery or protective instincts of staff
Members Chris, Aaron, or Scott. We’ll continue to mourn, to
Question what we can do to reduce the chances that
Future holidays will also come to hold dual meanings.
Thoughts, prayers, silent vigils help. They’re not enough.

Additional steps are required. To honor their memories,  go a little
Beyond: Send a pointed Valentine message to your legislator.
Follow up with emails, maybe even visits. Make a donation.
Register and vote. Talk with those of different views.
Find the unique, universal core deep within you,
Then share it. Some holidays exist for us to reclaim.



A Moment of Silence, Please

A Moment of Silence, Please  –by Jinny Batterson

(This short meditation was written in April, 2007, just after the mass shootings at Virginia Tech. At the time, I was in China, teaching English.  At this first anniversary of a different mass shooting, may we all find and make time for nourishing silences.)

On a cruel blustery April morning
A lonely gunman shot 32 others dead
Then killed himself.

Many of the dead were students
Including the killer.

We grieve.

Politicians mouth words of comfort,
All the while insisting
No words can suffice.

Many gatherings opt
For a moment of silence.

We remember other losses
In our own private spaces.

The gunman, reports say,
Was a loner.
Had little contact with anyone
Except as a sometime stalker.

A loneliness stalks our crowded planet.
We have less and less time,
It seems, to share even idle chatter,
Much less the silences of awe
Or intense joy.

Perhaps we can remember
More often
To share nourishing silences,
So we will have fewer occasions
To share the mourning kind.

To Our Macho Valentines

(I posted an early version of “Macho” to a website, “Poets against the War” prior to the 2003 initiation of the U.S.-led coalition’s war in Iraq. This prosier edition continues to be updated in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook and 2016 Orlando mass shootings and various other brutalities near and far. –Jinny Batterson)

To Our Macho Valentines  —by Jinny Batterson

Dearest Valentines,

This is going to sound preachy, and it’s important, so please listen:  Our over-emphasis on competition, violence, vengeance and warfare to shape our world has gotten seriously out of hand. It needs to be scaled back. 

When a disturbed young man sprays death on 20 first-graders with an assault rifle, or a different young man prey to extremist rhetoric expresses himself by shooting up a night club, or an aging business mogul blusters and insults his way to high political office, we need to say “Enough!”

Long ago, marauding bands armed with the best available clubs and spears made sense. Settlements were sparse, beasts were huge, weather was harsh. Threats were plentiful “out there.”  Now more of us live in cities than in caves. Notions of protection and habits of fear have yet to catch up with our changed circumstances.

Human violence is all too prevalent–world wars, holocausts, genocides, civil wars, mass rapes, terrorism, along with more intimate horrors. We can make up euphemisms like“collateral damage” to mask the results, but it doesn’t help.  Our knowledge of the damage we can inflict on each other still sticks in our throats.

So for a few moments, please drop your swagger, your snigger, your armor,  your weapons, and come join our quiet circle.  Don’t bring presents–no flowers, no chocolates, no well-intentioned but futile promises to keep us safe. Just sit. No words or gestures. Open your senses. Notice life’s interconnections.

Soon we’ll finish. Then you can get back to media sports coverage. But first we’ll say our piece plainly: though we may have admired your youthful shows of physical or mental prowess, we won’t stop loving you when injury, illness, or old age waylays you. 

Actually, when you’re not too loud, we love you most of all when you lie snoring peacefully beside us, human and vulnerable, just as we are.

With deepest affection,  Your Partners