Our Country Is On Fire: Will it Burn to the Ground?

I feel lost. We all feel lost, right?  Our country is going down in flames. The news of the Orlando Massacre hit me with a slow burn... but over the past 2 days, I just can't get it together to stop feeling devastated and hopeless about the state of our country. Sadness is a familiar feeling. Hopeless is a new one.

And I can't figure out if social media is helping or hurting. My people are loving supportive human beings who post unified support of the LGBT community. But along side those - we are posting links about the horrors of the Orlando shooting, as well as posts about Brock Turner (a rapist caught red-handed in the act) basically walking free.  It hit me like a brick: we haven't finished with one horror yet and boom: here is another one. We have had so many mass shootings, I can't name them all anymore. We have convicted rapists getting little to no sentencing while unarmed men of color are gunned down in the street by our own police force. Meanwhile, an actual racist bigot and straight-up insane reality TV show star has won the Republican nomination for President of the United States. And he is calling to ban an entire religion of human beings from our country. The United States of America.

Guys. What. Is. Happening.

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free... unless they are gay, or Muslim, or black, or of a different religion than I am...  

I got off the subway Monday morning in midtown Manhattan. A young girl stood outside the subway stop, guitar in hand, singing a song - but I literally couldn't hear one word because at that very same moment, sirens roared through the streets of Manhattan. Fire engines plowed full steam ahead (er, rather very slowly because it's a traffic nightmare) up 8th Avenue, and their constant sirens engulfed any sound in their path - including the song of this young woman.  It struck me all at once as the perfect metaphor: there is goodness in our world. There is an outcry of rage in the aftermath of [yet another] heinous massacre on our own soil. There are voices trying to speak out in hope and love and support. We are trying to sing.  But we are constantly silenced by all of the hatred and terror.  

As I turned the corner on 30th Street, on my way to 10th Ave, I suddenly felt a stillness. I can't explain it exactly, but I felt just scared enough to think "a bomb could explode right here right now at any moment. And I wouldn't be surprised." I felt like I was walking inside of a snow globe that could be lifted and shaken at any moment.

And I'm an optimist. 

Fuck.

What is happening, America? Where are we? Who are we? How do the good people take control? Every time another horrible act happens, I see the same memes and photos shared on Facebook. The Martin Luther King Jr. Quote. The Mr. Rogers Quote. I'm a comedian so most of my fellow performers post satirical articles and links to liberal shows like the amazing Samantha Bee and John Oliver. Great. It's all great. And usually I'm one for positive thoughts, but right now - I feel like, once again, we are all just screaming into a street that is filled with sirens. No one can hear us.

I have lost hope. I am drained. I am emotional. I just don't know what to do anymore. Usually I would cheer up at the sight of folks lining up to donate blood in Orlando, or of the crowds rallying for gay pride at Stonewall. But today, it feels all for naught. It makes me feel like - yeah, sure there are good people in the world and we all feel the same way - but we can't do anything about it. Nothing will change. Innocent people will continue to be murdered in our own country because hate exists and because people want to carry assault weapons to breakfast.  

We need our song to be heard thru the sirens. We need to put a WALL up between a crazy person, like Trump, and the nuclear codes. We need rapists to be punished. We need to trust our police force to protect us - all of us. And most of all - we need to stop making it so easy to purchase guns. We need to get our country back.

My friend, AJ, posted this on Facebook. It broke my heart:

It's like an updated version of the famous Niemöller quote:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
— Martin Niemöller

We can't stop hate. There will always be people who hate. We CAN stop putting guns in the haters' hands. 

So, I am legitimately asking you: What do we do? How do we help? 

I'm not talking about blocking the ignorant haters from your Facebook feed - I'm talking about: how do we make it better? How do we change the gun laws? Do those online petitions change anything? (Moveon.org etc?) Writing letters to Congressmen? Does any of this work? What actually creates change?

I don't want to feel hopeless. I want to sing and be heard.

 

Update 7/8/16: 

In the wake of the most recent hatred, fear, and racially motivated murders, I find myself unable to look at social media anymore. I feel again like I'm lost in a sea of sirens and sadness. I've been compiling info on ways to create change for the better and and pasting them here. Please feel free to add more: 

Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence  - Donate to organizations like this one. They are a non-profit made up of smart gun law attorneys around the country, who track, analyze, and fight to create better firearms legislation. Give them resources. 

Find your elected Representative and contact him/her.  

Vote! Not just for President. City Government has a lot of power. Do your research. 

Contact your Mayor (NYC here) and City Council (NYC here). They have relationships with police forces. Contact them often and tell them the changes you want to see.

More ideas here...

Love each other.