We left behind what looked like a difficult year, not only for us in the United States, but in general for the world. We were all full of great expectations. Things could only get better and the specter of worse news was not acceptable.
Well, friends, we are already ushering in the fourth month of what we called the New Year, and with vertiginous speed, we are careening from one disaster to the other. In today's jargon, we are speeding at skateboard speed as if we were training for the Olympics and were going for the gold.
The tragedies attached to the use of firearms by deranged people, mostly young and middle-aged, are shaking us. They are bringing a degree of suffering that will be difficult to heal and are shaking the very core of our society.
Because of the capacity to do harm, people are fixating almost exclusively on guns and their destructive capacity. However, I have always said, and will continue to say so, that guns do not kill people, people kill people using guns and, today, the ease to get a firearm is almost the same as ordering a pizza or going to the supermarket for a carton of milk.
The callousness of the last high school killings defies comprehension. America and the world reacted in a pretty unified manner.
Marches and demonstrations were organized all over the world, demanding an end to the easy availability of firearms. But, unfortunately, marches alone do not accomplish much.
They are great photo ops and now with social media, they make great "selfies." We have an urgent need that I hope will not get whitewashed in the frenzy of marches and demonstrations: we need political activism.
We need for our youth, our millennials, our seniors, all of us to demand of our "illustrious" political representatives the enactment of a federal law raising the age when legally you can buy a firearm. We need tighter controls researching the history of every prospective buyer, including cool-off periods.
And, we cannot leave this to the states. We need unified national laws that are equally applied in the 50 states.
Do you remember when in the south the bus fares were increased? Well, the poor and African Americans (who were the majority riders) boycotted, and the fares came down. Do you remember the "I have a dream speech"?
They were definitely other times and today, because of the technological revolution, why not take advantage of all the different new tools available, to really bring positive change? Why can't we say "enough is enough" and do something about it that is more than marching?
For all of this to happen, we need the political engagement of our youth, of our general population.To say enough is enough and lay memorials on sidewalks will not truly make any difference. We need the public to hold the elected officials accountable through the enactment of logical laws.
Unfortunately, social and political apathy and ignorance contributes to the status quo. If I stood outside one of our supermarket today and asked the first 10 people who come out to name the mayor and our state representatives, I would be horrified by the level of ignorance.
We need for people to demand accountability and political commitment. Today, people think that by identifying themselves as Democrat or Republican is enough. Well, it is not, and the tragedies that are shaking our very core transcend simple political identifications.
To raise the age when one can legally purchase a firearm should have nothing to do with political identification. To have better checks of prospective buyers as to their mental and legal health should be something that communities demand and are grateful for.
The Spanish version of this column is here.