I started writing this thinking it would be about the ongoing goat rodeo around the impeachment trial, and the disfunction in both American politics and media it highlights – but that’s not what ended up coming out…
Distance is a funny thing. Sometimes it makes things harder to see. And sometimes it draws things into painfully clear focus.
I work for a large international tech company – and my colleagues here in London are a pretty diverse bunch, hailing from nearly everywhere. That diversity brings challenges – not everyone is equally proficient in English, for instance. Combine that with different backgrounds, cultural norms, experience levels, and clear communication gets tricky.
But some things span those chasms. Those moments seize my attention.
The reaction in the office to the recent Seattle shootings, for instance.
Watching my colleagues react to that event – each of them being at least loosely connected to Seattle by nature of their employer having its headquarters there – was a pointed reminder of how much America has normalized gun violence. Some of my colleagues come from countries that America would generally consider part of the ‘second’ world – and they recognize, sometimes from personal experience, that normalizing these sorts of acts of violence is a destabilizing force in society.
Some of those colleagues are traveling to Seattle this week for a work event to be held not far from the shootings, and they wonder about their personal safety. If you’re American your instinct might be to dismiss that as over reaction. Before you do, take a moment and ask yourself: Is it?
Seattle has had multiple shootings over the past weeks. And more broadly America experiences a nearly constant barrage of gun violence in its major cities.
If you were being asked by your employer to travel to such a place, can you really say you wouldn’t be a bit concerned?
If you’re an America you’re likely tired of the gun control debate. It flares up around these events, gets the left and right wing press into a lather, and then goes away. It’s been this way for most or all of your life. That’s just the way it is. Like a Star Trek episode, the universe is the same at the end of the episode as it was at the beginning.
It won’t change anything for me, as a gun-owning American, to reiterate that America has a problem that desperately needs attention.
So I won’t.
‘Cause we can’t fix a problem until we recognize that we have one.
And it seems pretty clear that as a whole we aren’t there yet.
So for the moment it seems I’m stuck trying to stay out of harms’ way.
And grieving for the people who didn’t.