Please Don’t Shoot Anyone Today

Dear America,

I have a favor to ask of you. It’s kind of urgent and a rather big one, but trust me, I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t really need it and if I didn’t suspect we could all benefit. Ready? Here goes: 

America, please don’t shoot anyone today.

America, I know. I know. It’s hard to change one’s behavior just like that. Changing abusive or (self-)destructive behavior takes time, support, and practice. Not to mention vulnerability. It takes a willingness to look at the ugliest parts of ourselves. I’m hoping that for now, we can just take this baby step together and see how good it feels . . . we needn’t worry about tomorrow yet–that is the beautiful power of practice. We’ll just do our best to do what we know is right in the present moment, while holding a larger vision for the world we want to see. Among other things, the larger vision behind my request is about a more peaceful, non-violent world. It’s a feminist vision, but from what you tell me about yourself, America, from what gets written about you by your poet laureates and proffered by your press secretaries, you’ve got a pretty similar vision, right? So, don’t get freaked out by that particular ‘F’ word and let’s take this step today. Let’s not shoot anyone today.

America, just please don’t shoot anyone today. Don’t shoot a black teen, a child in the head for walking in the street instead of on the pavement. Don’t shoot a black man in the back as he runs away from you and claim self-defense, or claim that he shot at you with a gun that will never be recovered. Don’t shoot a black boy and claim you thought his wallet or his bag of chips was a gun. Don’t open fire on a house of worship, murdering many and traumatizing many more. Don’t open fire in a movie theater.

America, this would mean not sending drones anywhere today. Please? And maybe, just for today, could you cut the funding to the state of Israel as it decimates and thieves the land and the people of Palestine, piece by piece? Could we actually maybe cut, just for the day, all of the funding that goes to other countries to systematically oppress and murder other peoples so that we don’t have to get our hands as dirty? Actually, America, just for the day, could you put out an order to the troops you have stationed in over 150 countries around the world to also not shoot anyone today? I’m only asking for 24 hours. Please.

America, let’s please not shoot anyone today. Not on US soil, and not in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Syria, Djibouti, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Canada, Greenland, Honduras, or Guantanamo Bay. Not in any of those active combat zones, please. Not even in the places right here in this very country and its so-called territories that you have soldiers on active duty – like Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and scattered throughout the rest of the states. Let’s just take a break for the day. You’d save a bunch of money, and I know people who have plenty of ideas for how that money could be redirected to improve the lives of your citizens. Give all the soldiers a day to call their loved ones or meditate or play sports or write in their journals or contemplate the human lives they are normally complicit in ending. Or contemplate what more they could do with their very own human lives.

America, I have a lot of other favors on my list for you. I could ask, in no particular order, that you please not rape anyone today, or not beat anyone–statistically women and/or queer or trans folks of color–to a bloody pulp, or to death, or that you not displace communities so you can rape the natural resources on their land today, or not build the Keystone XL Pipeline today, or not put GMOs in our food today, or not be systemically racist today, or not imprison anyone today, or not be ableist, or a homophobe or gender police anyone today. I could ask you to value things like love, care, community, nourishment, education, health & healing, art, and more, today.

But look, I can be a pragmatist, too, America. I know we can’t do it all at once. We have to live stuck here in the mire as we attempt to create new and beautiful ways of being, as we interrupt the patterns of our sick and destructive behaviors. And this one thing feels pretty salient, right now.

So, America, please, from the bottom of my heart, please: don’t shoot anyone today.

2 Responses to “Please Don’t Shoot Anyone Today”

  1. Serene

    Ugh, it hadn’t really hit home until reading this just how depressing the level of public discourse about violence has been after the last two months. Since Michael Brown was killed, so much public discourse has been trying to set parameters of what counts as a “legitimate shooting” of a youth.

    Why is it so hard to imagine just one day without a shooting?

  2. Serene

    Also this reminds me of this other feminist gem about how hard it is to imagine a single day without a type of brutality that has become normalized– Andrea Dworkin’s 24-Hour Truce:


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