Thinking Out Loud

February 15, 2018

To Our American Friends, Again

You can’t fix this.

I’m sorry, but the intricacies of your political system have painted you into a corner and now you are trapped and can’t get out.

You will never fix this.

I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but try to imagine a scenario or series of scenarios that would result in enacting, for example, a repeal of the 2nd Amendment. It’s just not possible.

You, as a nation, don’t have the political will to fix this.

The system is broken and all your politicians know this. It’s a given that is whispered in hushed corridors of power, while the external message is, “Thoughts and prayers.”

…Just over five years ago, in December of 2012, I wrote the first “To Our American Friends” article. At that time I earnestly believed with all my heart that the U.S. had had a wake-up call and would start the conversation that would result in social and constitutional change. I wrote:

…Please accept our heartfelt sympathies.

Even though we’re close neighbors, we don’t fully understand the U.S. gun culture that is part of the DNA of those with whom we share this continent. And before we start to sound judgmental, we don’t always get it right up here, either; neither have we been immune to gun violence.

But we don’t think the framers of the U.S. constitution had yesterday in mind when they drafted the 2nd Amendment. Rather, I think they would be appalled, provided they were not completely bewildered trying to process where things presently stand.

This is only going to get worse. And worse and worse…

In June of 2015, I quoted President Obama:

“But let’s be clear: At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it.” – President Obama

Does he really believe “it’s in our power to do something?” By October of the same year, the President’s tone had changed. It was more a lament. I wrote at the time,

President Obama went on television for the 16th time in his presidency and said, “Somehow, this is becoming routine.”

Gun advocates say that people need to have guns to defend themselves, but where are the headlines where a mass shooting was aborted because some civilian took out the shooter?

Again, it’s not my place to comment on the laws of another country. But know this: To those of us outside what Pope Francis reminded Americans is called “The land of the free,” we don’t believe the authors of the U.S. Constitution had days like these in view. Not for a moment.

It certainly is “The home of the brave.” You’d have to be brave, to leave your house in the morning not knowing if you’ll be having supper with your family at night.

Today, I have a different message.

You need to get out.

You need to get out before you’re next.

If traveling through Europe last summer taught us anything, it taught us that geography or place of birth need no longer limit the trajectory of a person’s life. Especially our last two days, as we got to know Prague in the Czech Republic, we remarked a few times, “We could live here.” We could easily envision ourselves uprooting from friends and family and starting an entirely new life in an entirely new place.

And so could you.

English is widely spoken. You’d want to learn the local language, but you would be amazed at how much you can get by in the world with English.

The places are sophisticated. Many have innovations in education, medical services and consumer technology that have not yet become commonplace in the United States.

Your skills as a teacher, mechanic, IT worker, nurse, editor, contractor, dietician, etc. are transferable.

Think about it.

Book a trip. Book it now, before summer while the rates are lower.

If you have a passport in a country that is part of the British Commonwealth, consider England, Australia, or New Zealand. Otherwise, start subscribing to website bulletins posting jobs in Europe. If you speak a foreign language, all the better. You won’t be 100% safe; some of these countries have issues with terrorism, but you will be safer. So will your kids.

You need to get out.

There’s no other solution.

I’m sorry.




  1. I understand why, in a sane world, eliminating the weapons seems like a sane solution to a simple problem. But we don’t live in a sane world.

    I think the problem we have here is a human problem. A heart problem. A spiritual and societal problem.

    We’ve already seen plenty of examples in Europe, where a person with ill intent, bent on harming a lot of people, will use whatever means is available. There is no possible way to keep someone from plowing into a crowd with a vehicle, or taking out a machete on the subway, or a thousand other cruel and insane ways of achieving the same thing.

    But by the time things have gotten so bad as a civilized society that there are a large number of people who live each day on the brink, like a loose cannon or a bomb; just waiting to go off; just waiting to be triggered into doing something unthinkable… I think the train left the station a long time ago on this one. We are talking about multiple generations raised with a world view worse than the generation before them, with a deep sense of hopelessness, a warped sense of the meaning of life, and little or no understanding of the value of life. When unborn children are disposable, old folks are just an inconvenience, and people’s worth is measured by the number of Likes they got on their last social media post, we have long since left the realm of sanity.

    I’m not defending the right to keep and bear arms, or opposing any reasonable measures to control access to them. I just don’t think this is a solution that looks at the real root of the problem in the USA. We are filthy rich, more privileged than any humans in the history of the world, have access to all the world’s science, knowledge and accumulated wisdom at the tips of our fingers; but can’t seem to get the fundamentals of human relationships to function on a day to day basis. “For the love of money is the root of all evil,” a wise man once said. I wonder if it’s even possible for humans to have a large quantity of the former, without finding themselves drowning in the latter. Human history doesn’t give me much hope.

    Comment by George — February 15, 2018 @ 12:02 pm

    • Well said. Your last paragraph is gold.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — February 15, 2018 @ 12:08 pm

      • Thanks. It occurred to me as I reread the scripture quote from 1 Timothy 6, that I have been in many churches (How many? Not sure exactly — one too many, I know that) where this very quote was being dissected for “deeper meaning”, and the teacher pointed out this “amazing” revelation he had… “The verse does NOT say that MONEY is the root of all evil. It says that the LOVE of money is the root of all evil”. I guess that was to help explain his $4000 Armani suit juxtaposed against the homeless guy down the street. The watchmen here are not just asleep at their posts — they are actively taking part in the invasion against their own land.

        Comment by George — February 15, 2018 @ 1:42 pm

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