Still Trying to Imagine

John Lennon

I’m thinking about John Lennon. I’m always thinking about John Lennon. But today especially.

Over the past few weeks, there’s been a confluence of the two major issues I’ve been involved in for 20+ years: climate change and gun violence. I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed by the state of both these issues, it’s been hard to get motivated to write about them. But today is the 35th anniversary of the day John Lennon was killed, so I’m motivated.

Today is also the third night of Chanukah. There’s a natural Chanukah -environment connection. It’s a holiday about oil dependence in the same unstable region of the world that we’ve always had oil issues. It’s also about light at this, the darkest time of the year, which makes it a natural time to think about energy conservation, environmental stewardship and moving away from our unsustainable use of fossil fuels. This year it has even more meaning with the UN Climate Conference in Paris in its 9th day. About 180 countries have submitted emissons reductions plans. The goal is to reach a legally binding agreement to keep global average temperatures from continuing to rise to disastrous levels. As we know, storms with increased intensity, droughts and other catastrophic weather occurrences are impacting our planet, particularly the most vulnerable who are already suffering. This isn’t something in the future. This is happening now.

Climate change is a factor in the surge of refugees and terrorism as well. In Syria, for example there has been a drought for the past six years. As crops failed, there were food shortages. Hundreds of thousands of families who depended on farms ​poured into Syria’s cities, adding to the refugees already fleeing from the chaos in Iraq. The government was incapable of doing anything, making way for militant groups to step in.

We know all too well that intolerance and instability leads to unrest and violence. Not just terrorist acts by outsiders, but homegrown acts of violence made easier by our weak gun laws, which leads me back to John Lennon. It seemed impossible at the time that anyone would want to gun down and murder John Lennon who asked us to Imagine a better world and to give peace a chance. Who would have guessed that 35 years later in America, over 108,000 people a year would be victims of gun violence?

A few weeks ago I went to Washington DC for the 2015 Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence National Summit Lobbying Day and to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the national Million Mom March, which I was a coordinator for in 2000. Following our day of lobbying, we felt exhilirated, not knowing what lie around the corner in a few weeks. On the way back to New York, I updated my blog piece, Triggers, to encourage people to get in touch with their legislators to encourage the expansion of background checks for gun purchases. We had high hopes. But even with these recent tragedies, we’re having trouble getting any traction on legislation for gun safety laws.

If John Lennon had lived, I’m sure he would be just as perplexed as any rational person should be that our country can’t agree on commonsense approaches to both the problem of climate change and gun violence.

Being outraged isn’t #ENOUGH, we need to take action by supporting and voting for legislators and policies that will make a difference.

We learn from the Chanukah story that the little guy can be victorious over the big guy. This Chanukah as we kindle the candles, let’s hope there’s light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.