**This is not a legal blog and is not intended to incite anger or political vitriol. Sometimes certain events transcend everything else in life (including the legal profession), and we all just need to take a step back to think about what we are fighting for.**
Dear my baby Mia:
Today you turn 15 months old. The last 15 months have filled our lives with overwhelming love and happiness. Your mom and I watch your every move with pure joy. After we put you down to sleep each night, we talk about all of the funny and endearing things you did that day. You are the center of our lives, and you are the best thing that has ever happened to us. Every single day you inspire me to work hard so your mom and I can provide for you everything you need to be safe and happy in life. My promise to you is that we will do all we can to provide you with the tools you need to build a successful life for yourself and for those you love. I have no doubt that you will grow up to be an independent, intelligent, beautiful, loving woman, and I cannot wait to see how you leave your mark on the world.
Unfortunately, life is not easy and the world can be a dangerous place. In the 447 days that you have been alive, there have been almost 300 mass shootings in our country. At what point do we take a step back and say enough is enough? Innocent mothers, fathers, and children have died. Their deaths have left voids in the lives of their families, and have led many of us to wonder if things will ever change, or if this has simply become the narrative in our country that we are forced to accept. Certain groups try to misdirect the discussion to focus on side issues, to prevent anyone from being able to effectuate change. Unfortunately, money is power, and these groups have the support of some of the wealthiest people and industries in the country. They have convinced members of the public that assault rifles are necessary because our Constitution protects the right to bear arms, and if this right is taken away, what might be taken next? They want to instill fear in people so they will not fight for change. They want to conjure up memories of Nazi Germany to threaten the idea that if the government takes our guns we will never be able to protect ourselves. They want to label those who are tired of seeing innocent people die as “un-American.” They want to blame the mental health system (which is admittedly flawed) rather than addressing the fact that assault rifles and mass ammunition are far too easily accessible and unregulated. They want us to believe that there is nothing we can do to create change, because they have the power and the money.
Never accept this, Mia. Never accept that there is nothing that can be done. Never accept that change is futile simply because the task seems insurmountable. Offering thoughts and prayers to the deceased is fine, but doing so does nothing to prevent the next family from grieving the loss of their loved one. Outrage is expected, but it does not stop the next person from needlessly victimizing an innocent family. While there is not always a simple solution, something can always be done to create change; you just need to have the passion and the dedication to achieve it.
Mia, while you turned 15 months old today, 14 people in California died in another mass shooting. They were mothers, fathers, and children. They had hopes and dreams. They had lives to live and people to love. Perhaps they lost their childhood innocence long ago, but they surely had their own passions and goals. Three cowardly gunmen robbed them of their lives and left an indelible mark on their friends and families.
My hope for you is that you find your passion in life and that you spend your days trying to make the lives of other people better and happier. Do not take your happiness for granted, and never forget that others are not always as lucky. Do not let these tragedies derail you, but most of all, do not be discouraged by those who stand in your way. Respect them and treat them with kindness, but always stand up for what you believe in. Someday, you will be able to sit down with your children and tell them everything you have done to change the world for the better. You will undoubtedly face adversity and resistance, but your mom and I pledge to provide you with all of the tools you need to succeed. At the end of the day, my hope for you is that you can look at yourself in the mirror and know that you stood up for what was right and that you did something to help those in need, even if naysayers tried to stand in your way.
Happy birthday, Mia. You are an amazing little girl. I hope that you never have to face the tragedies that these families have to face today. In the words of Andrew McMahon: “For all the things my hands have held, the best by far is you.”