Seedlings: Enough! By Amy Wall Lerman, Editor
I have worked in the news for 25 years. I am a journalist and a newsgatherer. I find video from around the world and share the images with people who subscribe to our service: affiliates, international broadcasters, Internet resources, talk shows, whoever needs news video – I give it to them. Sometimes the stories are fun – like a one-time-only sale of beer in the USA by Trappist Monks in Belgium trying to raise money to build a new monastery; or the piano from the movie “Casablanca” selling at a New York City auction. That’s how my day started yesterday. It was fun.
We didn’t cover those stories because…the fun never lasts long where I work.
I have seen horrible raw footage for many, many years. I have cleaned up wars so as not to offend audiences at dinner time. I have grudgingly blurred nude art work so as not to “offend” the eyes of the innocent. I have furiously not distributed images of hundreds of dead babies in Syria. I have shown long distance shots of smoking plane crash debris. I watched two enormous buildings burn down before my eyes, trying to avoid the fear and heartache as I searched for the best camera angle. I have heard a man scream while being beheaded in Iraq and another while discovering his murdered daughter’s body in a college dorm room. I have watched children dangle from windows as they flee mass murderers. I’ve done my job. I’ve never cried. I’ve hidden behind the news by providing the images. I have buried the pain so I can keep on working. Instead of feeling, I tell jokes. I drink wine. I watch movies. I hug the people I love as often as I can. I squeeze my little boy until he tells me to “stop.” I tell him stories about good versus evil where evil always loses, and bad guys always become good.
I am tired.
Yesterday, for me, was the end of holding back. I put my head down on my desk periodically as the news dwindled in – in all its confusing fluidity. I took deep breaths and kept going. The world needed the video. I needed to be factual and distribute the image of the right killer. The world needed to get their reporters on the air.
I needed to breathe air.
Ironically it was our office Christmas party on December 14th. We share gifts and have a baking contest. I argued with a co-worker as to whether or not such festivities were appropriate on this day. It’s the one thing in that newsroom that many people look forward to each year. My gut wanted to carry on. His wanted to shut it down. We compromised and managed to keep it very low key. Nothing would make the day any better so what did it matter anyway?
As I went on to Facebook periodically to find information on the killer, the victims, name spellings of survivors…I stumbled upon images of 3 babies born that day to friends and extended family. Three beautiful faces wrapped in soft blankets, wearing those baby hospital hats, one with a Christmas ribbon on her head. That’s when the tears started. Those beautiful babies, those joyful parents, the havoc taking place just north of where I sat. So much joy. So much tragedy. So much confusion spinning around my head.
Despite everything I’ve seen, I’ve never cried about the news until yesterday.
I cried when I squeezed my little boy when he ran to the door shouting his usual excited, “Mommy,” and tried to hide my sobs as he looked at my eyes and kissed my cheek. I told him I had a bad day – just like he had had the day before when things in his gym class didn’t go so well. I thought about all the Mommies and Daddies who wouldn’t hear those happy shrieks as they walked in the door that day. I put my boy to bed last night and cried about all the empty beds in Newtown, Connecticut. I breathed in my son’s breath. I kissed the back of his head. I absorbed his tiny snores. I thanked the universe for my blessing and cried even harder for those who longed for their own blessings as they sit in shock and wonder what the hell happened and why the most precious thing in their world was snatched away for no good stinking reason.
Many of you reading this may believe in the antiquated 2nd amendment to the United States Constitution. Please rethink that stance. Please in the name of the hundreds of people who have died or been wounded in the last decade as a result of mass shootings. In the name of the babies who died yesterday. In the names of the parents who wish they had died instead. In the name of the siblings, the grandparents, the aunts, uncles, cousins, and best friends whose lives have been changed forever. Please rethink the law that no longer pertains to who we are as a people today.
Many of you reading this may not believe in universal healthcare. You may not have given mental healthcare a passing thought. Please, again, in the name of everything we are…think and rethink. The mentally ill cannot take care of themselves, they should not own guns, they should be assisted by you and me even if it means paying more tax. We live in a society of people where one action affects another and another…its never ending. We don’t live in a bubble. Lucky us – the ones who can still hold their babies in their arms. Lucky us. Now let’s reach out to those not so lucky. It won’t kill any of us to pay more tax to support society.
For those of you who want to tell me to shut up – say it – it’s your right under an amendment that has actual meaning. As a journalist, I’m not supposed to express my opinions, let alone write about them. As a human being and as a mom I will never be silent again. I will fight the gun laws now with everything I am. I will fight for my boy. I will defend my family, your families, the earth, humanity with my freedom of speech but never with a weapon of mass destruction.
There is no argument anyone can give me about the right to bear arms that I will not tear down, rip up, destroy, and smash to smithereens with my ability to think, speak, and love. Try me. I’m up for it.
Amy Wall Lerman, Editor of the Motherhood Later Than Sooner eZine, Baby Bloomer, is a television news producer and writer. She is the author of several books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Critical Reading and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Family Games. Her poetry has been published in an online literary journal and she maintains her own blog called Dodillydo. Amy lives in New Jersey with her husband and 4-year old son.