What is our fascination with these milestones? Every time another tragedy occurs we memorialize it as a milestone in our nation’s history.
Are these the milestones we want to mark?
Milestones are supposed to awaken us to our trajectory. When I celebrate a birthday, mark a first in my life, recognize an event as an important stop on my life’s journey - I do so to gain perspective on where I’ve been and where I’m going.
So where have we been and where are we going - as a nation?
Violence is not new. Hatred has not just been discovered. Black men, women and children have known racism. Our justice system has known corruption. Muslim’s have been profiled. Gays and lesbians have seen inequality. Guns are more readily available than food security and health care. Our history as a nation is filled with tremendous beauty and tragic error and we have been slow to learn from either.
We can mark these milestones, watch them pass us by and do nothing. Or, we can use them to change our trajectory. We can see them as the outrage that they are. We can examine our nation, the choices we’ve made, the ways in which we have surrendered to fear, violence, hatred and zenophobia and decide that is not who we want to be. We can see these milestones, not just as embarrassing experiences from our past, but vital lessons for our future.
We have a choice to make: Do we wait for another horrific milestone and lament how we’ve reached this point in our nation’s history or do we wake the hell up and do something about it.
Those who argue that racism is not deeply embedded in our nation’s history and social order are ignorant of both. Those who suggest that terrorism and violence are uniquely Islamic issues are blind to the history of terrorism and violence perpetrated in the name of all religions. Those who claim, in the name of the second amendment, that guns are not the problem, don’t understand the second amendment or the real dangers of gun proliferation. Those who argue that same-sex marriage is a threat to the institution of marriage don’t appreciate the value of love, commitment and marriage.
When are we going to stop marking milestones with moments of prayer and start praying with our legs? When are we going to demand that our representatives - represent us? When are we going to say "dayeinu"?
I’m tired of meaningless milestones.