I love, love, LOVE the start of a new year and all the possibilities it brings.

The fresh vibe swirling about always kicks my mental cogs in motion, inspiring me to create long lists of goals for the year–everything from big picture ideas to minutia: places to go, races to run, books to read, acts of kindness to perform, things to learn, projects to launch.

This year is decidedly different, though. This year I have only written one word on my list.

That word is courage.

Graphic of Courage

You see, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, and the mall shooting in Portland a few days earlier, and more recently the horror in New York in which several volunteer firefighters were gunned down while trying to extinguish a blaze, I have been able to think of little else besides, What is it going to take to stop the gun madness in our country?

The only answer is courage.

The courage to stand up, face the bully in the room and say, “Enough is enough.”

The courage to say, “Your right to bear arms does not trump my right to live in a civilized society devoid of unnecessary fear”—fear that some coward or mentally unstable person might wield an automatic handgun or a high-powered assault rifle and kill me or my family and friends at a shopping mall, a movie theater, political rally, school, or ____ (fill in the blank)…the list goes on and on.

The courage to say, “I will take a stand not only for myself, but more importantly, for my daughter and all the other children in our country who do not yet have a voice in this conversation.”

The courage to rise up and take action rather than waiting for somebody else to do it for me.

The courage to make it a priority and not become complacent, dulled by time and distance—at least until the next deadly shooting.

And the unfortunate and horrific truth is that unless we make changes to our gun laws and culture, there will be more shootings just like Sandy Hook Elementary School and Virginia Tech, and Columbine (to name but a few). There will be more carnage. There will be more families grieving the unthinkable. There will be more darkness.

Unless we have courage.

Courage is often born in the darkest of dark places for me—a place of sorrow, frustration or anger. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that “rage” makes up more than half of the word courage.

My mama bear hackles are raised to the nth degree knowing that twenty innocent 6 and 7 year old children were slaughtered, along with their teachers and administrator–people I hold in the highest esteem. I have officially reached my tipping point. My rage is now transforming into courage.

My gut (and my email inbox) tells me that it is for you too, that there are far more people in this country who want things to change than don’t; who believe it makes more sense, metaphorically speaking, to put teachers in gun stores than guns in teacher’s desk drawers.

For change to occur though, we must make it clear to our leaders that as individuals, while we may have been quiet and complacent in the past, we will no longer tolerate what is happening in our nation. Our voices and our collective power as mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, will be far more potent than any rifle-toting lobbying group—if we come together with courage and meld our strengths into one indefatigable group.

In the coming weeks and months, I hope to continue transforming my rage into courage so I can share concrete ways each of us can help bring positive change to our nation. I most likely won’t do it on this blog, but you can be certain that I will let you know what I am up to and where you can find me. Let’s just say a Million Mom (and their Amazing Men) March might not be out of the question.

For now I have but two simple things to ask of you:

1) If you agree that “Enough is enough,” simply leave your comment below and let me know. It doesn’t have to be long or eloquent. Just let me know.

2) If you want to see an end to gun madness in our country as much as I do, share this idea far and wide in any way you know how…on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Digg, email, and good old fashioned word of mouth. Reblog, repeat, and rally.

You may not think your words have much power, but they will continue to fuel the fire burning deep inside me. And hopefully my fire will help ignite another person’s fire, and that fire will ignite another person’s fire, and then eventually we will look around and suddenly realize we are living in a nation filled with light again rather than fear and darkness.

Photo of a candle flame


@Becky Green Aaronson aka A Mom on a Mission

48 thoughts on “CouRAGE

  1. Going over some older emails after months of being diverted by divorce craziness. Anyway, this post struck a chord with me. While gun control in our culture is something I believe needs serious attention, I also feel strongly that mental health care is a huge part of the problem. I too, have made a decision to take some action in my own community and have begun the process of building a not for profit dedicated to helping families get support when their loved ones are affected by mental illness. All too often, families are suffering in secret because of shame, fear and lack of opportunities to get support in their communities.

    Family Oxygen has a simple, but important mission to organize support groups where families or friends can interact with others dealing with the ramifications of mental illness and it effects on the entire family – and the community. We will be launching a network of meetings in the New York area this summer (eventually we plan to expand much further). It is our hope that by offering support to families a place to share their story in a confidential setting it will help chip away at the stigma of mental illness that too often forces families to deal with escalating symptoms of a loved one by themselves with sometimes disastrous results. Mental illness isn’t experienced in a vacuum and in order for a patient to truly heal, they need the people in their support system to be healthy too. A caregiver isn’t going to be any good unless they put the proverbial “oxygen mask” on themselves first and sometimes that “mask” is simply a safe, nonjudgemental place where a family doesn’t feel alone.

  2. Thanks, Becky, for putting your energy here and on this problem. We can change, but we need to get the influence of the NRA out of Washington. I was amazed at the amount of dis-information being sent around the internet and had run ins with friends who surprised me with their positions. I posted a number of Snopes corrections where I found false info. I love what your followers had to say and we need to keep our actions going.

    • Thanks, Val. It’s going to take a lot of small steps to create big changes. Right now I’m focusing on signing as many petitions as possible and joining other groups that have already built tremendous momentum like One Million Moms for Gun Control

      Check out what they are up to–I think you will be impressed.

    • Thank you, Lynne. It’s mind-boggling how the 2nd Amendment has gotten distorted, and how the economics of the gun industry has inspired those who benefit most to stir up fear to increase sales. The article you shared reinforces all the reasons why we need to prevent such senseless loss of life–especially of our society’s youngest and most vulnerable.

      I’m heartened today by Obama’s speech. “With rights come responsibilities. The time to take action is NOW.”

  3. As it is said, it takes a spark to start a flame and I can feel the fire in your words. It’s long past time to take a stand against those who have perverted the Second Amendment to suit their own selfish desires. In a civilized society, individual rights must be balanced with community rights. Just because one may have the legal right to own one of these military-style killing machines doesn’t they have the moral right, but I’m afraid it will be necessary to change hearts and minds before it will be possibly to change laws. I’m with you all the way, Becky.

    • I agree, Jayne, that hearts and minds are the most important elements in this conversation. Our country clearly a long way to go, but I feel like a whole lot of people who have remained silent in the past, have finally reached their tipping point on this issue and are now willing to stand up and make their voices heard. I’m glad to you know you are one of them!

  4. Enough is definitely enough, Becky, I agree. We need to act like the adults that we are and seek to find common ground from which we can find a resolution to senseless violence, especially when directed towards our children.
    I remain hopeful, determined and committed to finding a path a peace. Courage is the perfect word for the New Year.

    Best to you!

    • Nancy, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I love this part the most: “I remain hopeful, determined and committed to finding a path of peace.” So beautifully said.

      Here’s to courage and action in the new year ahead and to finding solutions that bring more peace to our country.

  5. Becky, this is such a beautiful, empowering post. Yes, I agree. I’m sick of all this gun violence that we are basically told we “have” to live with as it is our right to bear arms and we must do all we can to protect the Second Amendment. Enough is enough. I firmly believe that amendment was created in a different time, historically, when many still needed to protect their homes and families, and hunt for food. But, enough is enough!

    Happy New Year, Becky. Thank you for taking a stand. What courage you have!

    • Monica, thanks for your kind words of support. Courage is relative, and the more support I have from people like you who feel the same, the more empowered I feel–and hopefully you do too. Together we can work toward change and be part of a larger group trying to reduce violence in our country. It’s just a matter of convincing people that reducing gun violence is necessary and possible. Sandy Hook should be enough to convince anybody, but clearly there is work to be done.

  6. Becky, it’s amazing how different reactions to this tragedy were – my own included even surprised me a bit. I appreciate your words and passion so much. You are full of courage and I truly believe that if somebody can make a positive and rational decision about gun control, it would be you! Hope you have a wonderful year ahead and I look forward to reading your words and feeling their power ;0)

    • Cindy, thanks for your words of encouragement. I know this isn’t the road you would take, but I appreciate your support in believing that we “can make a positive and rational decision about gun control.”

      Here’s to the power of positive actions in the new year and to celebrating all we have in common!

  7. Becky – this is brilliant. I got goose bumps just reading this. We can start as a small group and make a change. I am in! I got the “courage” and the outrage flowing through my veins. elizabeth

    • Goosebumps. That says it all. So glad to have you on board, Elizabeth! Your support and your “can do” attitude means everything!

  8. Becky, you’re right, 100 percent. The gun laws in America are wrong. But I’m expected to say that: I’m Canadian, and our gun control is much, MUCH tighter. The situation like the recent Sandy Hook horror can’t happen here. I guess we’re blessed. But I wish you people on the southern side of the border the same level of security we enjoy. I’ll applaud any action you take, and I definitely appreciate the courage it will demand of you to go against the corporations that manufacture guns. Those will not give up their position = money easily.

    • Olga, I’ve often thought of what other nations around the world must think of the gun insanity in our country. Your perspective as a Canadian reinforces the notion of what is possible if we make gun control a priority. The hardest part, as you mentioned, is all the lobbying by gun manufactures and their supporters. It will definitely take all of us to stand up to this. Thanks for lending your support and sharing your perspective.

  9. Becky: The shootings at Sandy Hook created a pall over the holidays seeing that it took place so close to my former home in Connecticut. I also know many families who struggle with the mental health issues of their over 18-year old children who “age out” of any systems of care. But as one psychiatrist friend said to me, the parents need to lead by example – if you don’t want your children to drink – don’t drink. It is unfathomable to me that this parent had guns in the house. Our society cannot continue to be bullied by the gun lobby – this must change! Thank goodness our President feels the same urgency on this issue. Thank you for your COURAGE to speak up on this issue and to rally troops. It is good to hear from you!

    • Michele, so great to hear from you. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I agree with all you have said. And yes, we are lucky our President and Vice President feel some urgency about this issue, With all the other BS going on in Washington, it would be easy for them to set this aside, but now is the time for us to press the issue and not let it get put on the back burner like it has in the past.

    • Fantastic, Tracey! Your support means a lot. It’s going to take all of us to make a difference. Thanks for Tweeting and spreading the word.

      I simply have no words for the incomprehensible actions of those young men in India, and the beautiful life lost. The older I get and the more I know (whether I want to or not), I believe women will be the ones who lead our world in a better direction.

  10. My word for the year is “enough”, because it offers so many possible interpretations. It fits well with what you describe here.

    I truly believe that enough people coming together on the weapons issue can force a change that’s long overdue. Reaching the objective requires, for starters, voting out of the House and Senate nationally and out of local office any who won’t and don’t represent what their constituents want. It also requires staying with the issue until change is made. Action can be as simple as writing Congress, not purchasing for children toys that look like weapons (I never did when my son was growing up), and not patronizing shoot-em-up movies as exercises in creativity. Every action counts.

    • “Enough” is a powerful word on many levels. I like that you’ve chosen it for your word this year.

      And yes, those are all excellent, concrete ways to take action. I loathe the fact that murder shows are some of the most popular on TV, and that commercials are often just a bombardment of guns and explosions. I’d love for Hollywood to raise the bar and start thinking more creatively–to make movies and television shows that inspire, teach and entertain rather than glorify violence and killing.

  11. I’m going to print out your picture and hang it up. I’m proud of Hickenlooper for calling for more help with mental illness, as so many fall through the cracks and can still acquire guns.

    • Hickenlooper has done a good job bringing mental health to the forefront. There are many complex issues and emotions stirred together in this larger gun issue, which of course makes it challenging to create change. If we each do a little, then band together, it will happen though. I believe enough people are sick enough of the status quo to finally do something about it. Thanks for taking the time to leave your comment!

  12. Nothing like being fired up over something so important at the start of a New Year. I’m with you. And speaking of rage, how do we even fathom the NRA/Wayne LaPIerre proposal re: armed guards in schools? Either he’s totally insensitive to the bigger issue re: the message it sends to children and how it diminishes all sense of safety and innocence — or it’s a deliberate hard line to leave room for negotiation in gun control.

    • It’s been a long time coming. The insanity of our gun culture has needled me years–starting with the Columbine massacre. We lived in Colorado at the time and drove to Denver for work shortly after the shootings. While families, friends, and complete strangers were grieving the loss of all those young lives lost, the NRA continued to hold its convention in a downtown hotel to rally its members. The insensitivity of it struck hard–just like the current proposal to have armed guards in school. The only thing that gave me a glimmer of hope then was seeing all the protesters on the sidewalk outside the hotel. And the thing that gives me a glimmer of hope now is having smart, strong, kind people like you step up and say, “No more.” I will always believe people are inherently decent and kind, even gun-toting folks who live their lives from a base of fear. Let’s hope we can all come together to find a place where fear is left at the door.

  13. You have my full support. I’m wowed by your passionate courage to do something to make change. It’s time! You can see it happening again–the country is already beginning to forget the horror that happened in Newtown. Thank you for keeping the story alive through your wonderful post.

    • It’s heartening to know that you’re in too. It’s going to take all of us to stand up to the extremely LOUD other side and make our voices heard above all the noise. Thanks for showing your support!!

  14. Becky, Bravo for mustering COURAGE to speak up and take the lead in your community. We too have she’d many tears and had our hearts broken by these horrific events. I’m on board and support your efforts.

    • Thank you, Bonnie. I’m thrilled to have your support. That’s exactly what we need: more smart, strong women to make this happen.

    • Thanks for your words of support, Jane. The next step is to organize action. There’s a lot shakin’ around our country right now, which gives me hope that all of us like-minded people can band together and present our ideas for change.

    • So great to know you’re in too. Thanks for your show of support.

      And OMG, that young lady in India breaks my heart. There simply are no words.

  15. Happy New Year Becky! Thank you for all you share throughout the year. I love your writing. Please continute using your gift to entertain, inform and inspire all of us readers. xo Nance

    • Happy New Year to you too, Nancy! So great to hear from you again. Thanks for swinging by to say hi. Here’s to a meaningful year ahead!

  16. Enough is enough–gun laws need to be changed and the culture of guns in this country needs to be addressed. In addition, I believe the mental health services that we have available must be improved.

    • Let’s hope all those things get the attention they deserve, especially as time goes by and people get hypnotized by their busy lives. The hardest part is keeping it a national priority. That’s why it’s important for all of us to make our voices heard now while we remember the staggering sorrow from this recent shooting.

  17. I have a friend who is a wing nut gun nut. He’s sure that folks like us just want to take away his guns. And he quotes the second half of the second amendment. I told him that what I wanted to take away was his ability to walk into a school and kill 20 kids.

    • Absolutely, Stu. No matter how many people say it’s their right to own a gun, there is no justification in the world for somebody to own an assault rifle with high-powered magazine clips. I can’t imagine any sane person (gun-loving or otherwise) would put up a fight about banning such weapons–particularly when it’s painfully obvious what happens when they get into the wrong hands.

      On a happy note, the city of LA bought back over 2,000 guns last week, including two rocket launchers.

  18. I’m with you, Becky – and yes, so many others are with us, too. One of my Seattle-based friends responded similarly right after Sandy Hook. “The only reaction is ACTION,” she wrote, and opened her home to a meeting of folks who’d had enough. The resulting group, the Come Home Alive Initiative, has been busy over the past few weeks. I haven’t been able to join any of their meetings, but have been following their progress, impressed. I mention all of this (and include a link) because I suspect that you’re on the same page. Perhaps we have the networks among us to coordinate our community efforts for a larger-scale effect…

    Thank you for your courage and commitment, Becky. My best wishes for a happy, safe new year.

    • Tele, so nice to hear from you! Thanks for sharing this link and letting me know about your Seattle friend’s efforts too. I checked out what they’re trying to start–great stuff. My hunch is that LOTS of people all over are country are trying to organize movements that will push for changes to our gun laws and culture. If we can all figure out a way to connect, we’ll be a powerful group. The blogosphere is a great way to start!

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