My Country Has Failed Me

My country has failed me. My voice isn’t loud enough and no one is listening. I’m screaming and begging and pleading for something to be done. But my voice is drowned out by red tape and money and process and influence and political ambitions.

My country has failed me.

20 first-graders were killed. They didn’t die. They were murdered. 20 innocent, tiny, loved people. Children who had no idea their world was so screwed up. Who hadn’t had a chance to blame us for not fixing the world they should have grown up in. We screamed and begged and pleaded for something to be done. DO SOMETHING. But the voices that were screaming weren’t louder than the voices that were bragging about their gun racks and right to bear arms.

My country has failed them.

50 men and women were killed in a club in Orlando. They didn’t die. They were murdered. We’re screaming and begging and pleading for something to be done. And nobody is listening. Are you surprised? If they didn’t hear us, if they didn’t care when it was a roomful of children, why would they care now, when it’s a roomful of adults who made their own choices, chose their own lifestyle, followed their own truths, celebrated their own freedoms? And by the way, THEY’RE ALL INNOCENTS.

My country has failed them.

A singer was gunned down after a concert in a country that failed her.
13 immigrants were gunned down while becoming citizens in a country that failed them.
12 people were gunned down while watching a movie in a country that failed them.
32 people were gunned down while learning, teaching, growing in a country that failed them.
45 diners were gunned down while eating a meal in a country that failed them.
18 people were gunned down while walking in a country that failed them.
14 people were gunned down while celebrating in a country that failed them.
14 people were gunned down while working in a country that failed them.
13 people were gunned down while protecting a country that failed them.
161 people were gunned down and we noticed. Countless more were gunned down and we had to stop listing them because it’s too many and too overwhelming. Too powerful of an argument. Or maybe not powerful enough.

And we screamed and begged and pleaded. But nobody listened. Because we live in a country that has failed all of them.

A man stands at a podium his country has given him the right and privilege and wealth to stand at. He screams and begs and pleads and pays for that right. And they listen. He pays, and they listen.

And they’re screaming and begging and pleading for him to do something. To give them back their rights. To make their country great again. To guarantee them their freedoms. To bear their arms. To protect them from their enemies. People who disagree with them, don’t look like them, weren’t brought up exactly like them. People they have decided to blame. To stop the innocents from stealing their jobs and their rights and their freedoms. Them, them, them. Nodding their heads at the hatred and bigotry that are scarier than any person. Making mental lists of all the ways they’ve been wronged and are owed.

And our country has fed them, not failed them. How will they feel when it has?

Today, I bought my daughter a red, white and blue Minnie Mouse dress. Because tomorrow is Flag Day at school and I can’t bring myself to dress her in an American flag. But I can’t tell her why, because she’s afraid of Venus fly traps and staplers and stink bugs and I can’t add her country to that list. Because today I’m ashamed to live in America and embarrassed by what we’ve become, and she’s pure and innocent and good, and she’s SO PROUD every time she sings “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and I can’t break her little patriotic heart. So I’ll hide our nation’s flag behind a character and let her believe in the good of her country, knowing it’s only a matter of time before she feels it, too. Before she’s ashamed and scared and embarrassed. Before she knows that her country has failed her. Because right now, it isn’t a grand old flag and this is not the home of the free and the brave. It’s the home of the ignored and the scared.

Do not misunderstand. There are brave, strong people in this country. There are people who care more about compassion, kindness and safety than a collection of weapons and bragging rights and arguments. They’re the ones screaming the loudest that something needs to be done. They’re the ones quietly hoping someone will step up, set their political aspirations aside and help. But make no mistake: We are a country under the thumbs of cowards, wealth and influence. “Important people” who play to the lowest common denominator, fear and greed. And the voices of the few who have managed to rise to the top through strength, intelligence and compassion are drowning in a country of ignorant bellowing.

Nobody is listening. And so you are free to carry your weapons. To build your arsenal. To pose with rounds of ammunition in front of American flags. To practice your aim. To brag about how you could have taken them. If only you had been there with your guns. Because you’re a great shot.

So I ask you: Where were you? Where have you been? Where are your big action-hero moves? Why didn’t any of your friends pull their weapons and protect our innocents? Did they forget? Did they run? Have you been so distracted by your temper tantrums that you neglected to organize your amendment-guaranteed militia?

You have made this our country. And our country has failed us.

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