Dear Naropa Community,
It is inconceivable, and yet tragically predictable, that we are obliged to call out Tuesday’s violence that took the lives of 19 young children and 3 adults in Uvalde, Texas. It is too tempting to give into numbness and despair in the face of senseless violence over which we believe that we have no control. And, of course, we most likely didn’t know the 18-year-old killer, the grandmother, nor any of the students or teachers who lost their lives. If you believe that there is any truth to the teaching that human beings exist in an interconnected eco-system, then please take some breaths, steady your minds, open your hearts, and visualize the connections, tenuous as they may be, to those who died – whose families and loved ones are experiencing unfathomable grief – and the countless fellow beings who have been directly impacted by the reverberation of the trauma.
From that place of being grounded and focused, I then urge every person who reads these words to focus on taking very direct next steps.
The late, extraordinarily-influential Buddhist monk and mindfulness teacher Thich Nhat Hanh said, in connection to the war in Vietnam, “When bombs begin to fall on people you cannot stay in the meditation hall all of the time…..Meditation means to be aware of what is happening in the present moment – to your body, to your feelings, to your environment…But if you see and if you don’t do anything, where is your awareness? Then where would your enlightenment be? Your compassion?”
Please don’t give in to a view that addressing the issues of gun violence, a mental health crisis, embedded racism, and all forms of bias are too intractable to deal with. We cannot afford to retreat to a nihilistic cave, disconnected from a world that needs every one of us to offer compassion and skillful action.
I beseech you to take the time RIGHT NOW to act. Act as you feel called, but one task to consider is to contact your federal elected representatives and demand that they take the actions that the vast majority of the country support. By no means will these legislative steps be enough, nor will they change the aggression which infects the minds and bodies of so many. However, just as taking the keys from a drunk person so they cannot drive can save a life even though it will not solve the problem of alcoholism, so too will practical controls over gun acquisition through background checks or other means have the potential to reduce future carnage.
I suggest that each of us take the time to send six messages in our own voices. Mine arose from the emotional effect of seeing the pictures of some of the dead children, and of my erupting anger arising from inaction. Yours can be informed by whatever you are feeling. Please communicate with the Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer; the Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell; the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi; your own Congressperson; and your state Senators.
Below my signature is the contact information for those in the Second District of Colorado, and those of you who are out of this district can easily find your own senators and representatives. (Please note that you cannot send an email without an address in the state or district the elected official represents, and some will not take messages from out of their districts. Call or fax if you can, email your own Senators and Congresspersons by going to their websites, or if needed mail a letter.) HERE is a sample of a letter that you can draw from if you need a start. Don’t call yourself a constituent to the leadership (unless you are of course). The form letters have language they have all seen before, so whatever you say, do it simply and from the heart.
Please join me in acting. For anyone in need of support, please reach out to mental health care providers, friends, work colleagues, or anyone with whom you have a close connection.
Heartfelt Warm Wishes,
Senator Chuck Schumer
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
(202) 228-3027 fax
Senator Mitch McConnell
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2499 fax
Representative Nancy Pelosi
1236 Leavenworth House Office Building
Washington DC 20515
(fax not listed)
Senator John Hickenlooper
Byron Rogers Federal Building Russell Senate Office Building
1961 Stout St 2 Constitution Ave NESuite 12-300 Suite SR-374
Denver, CO 80294 Washington DC 20510
(303) 244-1628 (202) 224 5941
Senator Michael Bennet
Cesar Chavez Memorial Building 261 Russell Senate Office Building
1244 Spear Blvd. Washington DC 20510
Denver CO 80214 (202) 224-5852
(866) 455-9866 (202) 228-5097 fax
Congressman Joe Neguse (CO 2nd District)
2503 Walnut St 1419 Longworth House Office Building
Suite 300 Washington DC 20515
Boulder CO 80302 (202) 225-2161
(303) 335 1045