Progressivism Always Prevails. Reasons for Optimism in the Aftermath of 17 Preventable Deaths

Above: The future. Below: I wrote the following letter to my daughter, Maia, and share it here. Have faith. Our side always wins in the long-run. Always.

Dear Maia,

I spent a good bit of the latter part of this past week looking at the images and listening to the voices out of Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It is incomprehensible to me that a teenager who can’t legally purchase a beer, or drive a car without a license, is able to legally purchase an assault weapon with the capacity to fire dozens of deadly rounds in a single minute. In fact, it’s incomprehensible that any civilian is able to legally own such a weapon.

Incomprehensible, that is, until one considers that the single most powerful political lobby in Washington is the NRA and that they own nearly every single Republican politician – politicians who, apparently, value NRA campaign contributions (and promises of post-retirement speaking fees) more than they value the safety of American citizens including our children and young people. The top 10 recipients of NRA money in both the U. S. Senate and the U. S. Congress are all Republicans. (Rather than provide a link to verify this, I encourage readers to do their own research in order to get a real sense of just how deeply the NRA has its claws into our Republican politicians. )

And so it should be no surprise that in his role as House Speaker, Congressman Paul Ryan, (Republican, Wisconsin) will permit neither meaningful floor debate nor a meaningful vote on anything that would curb the lucrative sale of guns in this country. Or that in the aftermath of one mass shooting after another, the only pleas he makes are pleas for non-action.

In the past election, Donald Trump received over $30 million in direct and indirect campaign money from the NRA. And so, again, it should come as no surprise that Trump has promised the NRA he will never sign legislation undermining gun sales. “You have a true friend in the White House,” Trump told the NRA.

Who, in Parkland, Florida, among the 14 dead young people and the three teachers and coaches who loved these kids and laid down their lives to protect them, and their families, and their friends , have a “true friend” anywhere in the Republican Party? Or the next 17 dead? Or the next 17? Or the 17 after that?

Even the majority of gun owners do not want these current lax laws to exist. (Anything you suspect I’m making, up, you should research.) It’s an NRA thing. It’s a Republican thing. It’s a $32 billion dollar a year gun industry thing.

Money over lives in the GOP party of coal, tax breaks for the rich, opposition to national health care, hostility toward education, unending wars on our environment and indifference toward the DACA young people who came to the United States with their parents. Build a wall, like they did 2,000 years ago in China. Have a military parade, like they do in North Korea. And keep taking NRA money.

With fellow Americans voting for Republican majorities in the House, the Senate and (by a minority vote only possible in America) giving the presidency to Trump, how can I be optimistic?

Maia, remember what I told you about ISIL? That this terror-war waged by a minority of Muslims was the predictable outcome of a variety of international policies and that over time it would subside? You can Google maps of ISIL’s gains and losses; they began steadily losing ground a few years ago. This is one of the few areas where Trump has kept Obama-era policies in place, and ISIL’s demise is continuing.

At the same time, countries inviting people from war-torn nations to enter their borders and to experience life in free, Democratic societies – to benefit from higher education, to make friends, to see the world through a more progressive lens, to reduce fears and misunderstandings on all sides – are doing more to defeat terror than all the bullets and bombs combined. The people of Sweden, Germany, France and other countries accepting émigrés have taken risks in opening their borders. They are heroic for doing so.

And they are on the right side of history.

Over the long haul of history, progressivism always win. Always. As a species, we periodically subject ourselves to bloody crusades, anti-science/anti-legal-system dark ages, tribal holocausts, authoritarian reigns of terror and the predictable aftermath of colonialism/neocolonialism and slavery. But along the longer arc, we slough off these primitive instincts, allow our better angels to guide us…

…and we keep moving forward.

And now we are here – at a day and age when, despite pockets of evil, on a scale never before even imagined in human history more people than ever are enjoying freedom, prosperity, access to education, health care, self-expression and art. If we can begin to address population growth, it will only get better.

Out of every darkness, there has come a time when a new generation has wrested leadership from their elders and demanded a new course. The overwhelming majority among the current generation now coming of age are rejecting the Republican Party’s backward push to coal, bigotry, misogyny, unsustainable growth, and Feudal era solutions to 21st century challenges (the wall).

And senseless access to guns that serve no purpose other than to kill fellow human beings.

I’ve been listening to the voices out of Douglas High… Emma Gonzalez’s being one of the strongest (do Google her)… And my heart is full. I’m optimistic that change is coming. Maybe not tomorrow… but it’s coming.

Because over the long haul, we always move forward. Progressivism prevails. And in the pursuit of optimism, patience is a virtue.

Love, Dad

JD, Chignik Lake, Alaska

17 thoughts on “Progressivism Always Prevails. Reasons for Optimism in the Aftermath of 17 Preventable Deaths

  1. Wow. For years I’ve been receiving your emails. I’ve been admiring your photography and benefiting from your amazing receipts. But I’ve never responded to you directly, until tonight.

    THANK YOU. Thank you so much for speaking so honestly and beautifully to your daughter and thank you so much for sharing this raw and personal message with us.

    I’m truly moved.

  2. Thanks for your ray of hope. The Dark Angels in charge right now have me down.

    While I agree with your assessment of the Republicans and the NRA, the Democrats also have blood on their hands. Perhaps the next election cycle will give me hope that we actually live in a decent society.

  3. Thank you for this incredible post–it spoke to me deeply and helped lift me up. We are experiencing such dark times; I appreciate your view of both the past and the future.

  4. Excellent letter, Jack. When I was still living in Japan in 1996, a mass murderer in my home country of Australia, shot & killed more than 40 people, 21 of whom died. Following this, the then conservative Prime Minister Howard set up a “buy-back” of guns within a certain time limit. After that, people either had to register their firearms or go to jail. Since then, there have been no mass murders here. There are the odd incidents of shootings, either involving crime gangs, or suicides. Of course, there are people in Australia, including farmers, pest controllers, wildlife researchers, etc., who do register their firearms. The constant reports of gun violence in the US dumbfounds most of us in the developed world. In countries such as Australia, Europe, Japan, etc. The gun lobby in the US has bribed politicians for years. Now young students are standing up to this corruption. They are heroes. I hope they are successful in bringing down the NRA, or at least, forcing them out of their donations of dirty money.

    • Well stated, Gerowyn. Yes, the gun violence on our shores is surely dumbfounding to reasonable people. Here’s a piece of that this is truly sad: Australia’s example is well known in the U. S., but there is a steadfast refusal among the NRA and their Republicans who dance for them to even acknowledge how Australia 1) suffered a horrible mass killing at the hands of a gunman, 2) made reasonable legislative changes that limited guns while protecting the rights of homeowners and hunters to still obtain guns for sport shooting, property protection and hunting, and 3) have seen zero mass shootings in the 20+ years since. The Supreme Court has recognized and stated that gun rights are not limitless, that under our constitution some classes of weapons can be kept out of civilian hands. Reagan, a Republican icon, understood this and was against the civilian population owning military-style weapons. Why don’t we take action? Money. Don’t let anyone tell you that this is about “Constitutional Rights.” It’s not.

    • Well stated, Gerowyn. Yes, the gun violence on our shores is surely dumbfounding to reasonable people. Here’s a piece of that this is truly sad: Australia’s example is well known in the U. S., but there is a steadfast refusal among the NRA and their Republicans who dance for them to even acknowledge how Australia 1) suffered a horrible mass killing at the hands of a gunman, 2) made reasonable legislative changes that limited guns while protecting the rights of homeowners and hunters to still obtain guns for sport shooting, property protection and hunting, and 3) have seen zero mass shootings in the 20+ years since. The Supreme Court has recognized and stated that gun rights are not limitless, that under our constitution some classes of weapons can be kept out of civilian hands. President Ronald Reagan, a Republican icon, understood this and was against the civilian population owning military-style weapons. Why don’t we take action? Money. Don’t let anyone tell you that this is about “Constitutional Rights.” It’s not.

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