Dear Congress,

Dear Congress,

Yesterday, 17 people were slaughtered. I know you know this, because it’s impossible not to. But I want to write to you, to each of you–Senators and House Representatives, men and women, parents, friends. I want you to know how angry I am. How scared and sad and worried and confused. I want to write yo you as your employer. Remember me? The person who hired you?

You see, there are lots of statistics floating around right now. About how many school shootings that have already happened 45 days into the year. About which shooting was the deadliest, about how we’re averaging about one school shooting per week since Sandy Hook. Remember Sandy Hook? When 21 first graders were shot to death? Yeah, I thought so. I don’t know if it’s better or worse that you do remember, because how could you not have taken action then?

I’m going to say some things here that might make you get really defensive, but let’s drop all of those pretenses and just be honest, okay? We know you’re funded by the NRA. We know that, you know that, the NRA knows that…it’s fact, not opinion. So we know you have a *vested* interest in making them happy. That’s just how it is. They keep your pockets full, and you need your pockets full. We all do. It’s the beauty of capitalism.

But. BUT. Mommies need their babies to come home. Daddies need to hug their littles and tuck them in at night. Wives and husbands need their spouses, their best friends, to wake up tomorrow. High school students need to know they’re safe at school. FIRST GRADERS need to know they’re safe at school.

Can I pay you to change? I can’t pay you the millions (billions?) of dollars that the NRA can, but I can give you everything I have. Please. I’m begging you. I’m selling my soul to you so that you’ll do something.

If it’s not money you’re after, but pride and recognition, then imagine the publicity and support you’ll get by DOING SOMETHING. We will stand behind you!! We will say YES! Change! Reform! Protection! You won’t be alone, Congress. Sure, some of your colleagues will balk at the challenge, and continue to fund their campaigns and vacation homes and you might even wonder how you’ll survive (or how your campaign will survive, or how your vacation home will survive) if you’re not on the NRA’s good side. I get that. It doesn’t make it okay, but I get it.

Congress, you’re going down in history. Whether you know it or not, you’re on the cusp of a time that in a few generations, people will look back and say “what took them so long???!” They’ll wonder how we let so many kids die on our watch. On your watch. They’ll write books about this time, analyzing what could’ve been done differently. Don’t you want your name on the right side of that story? To be written about as the lone person who took a stand to protect our babies? Don’t you want to be a hero?

And, in case you think it won’t matter, let me present to you a case study. In 1996 Australia experienced their worst mass shooting. 35 people were killed. In the days after this shooting, the Prime Minister started putting together the strictest gun reform in the world. They banned automatic, semi-automatic, and pump-action shotguns. More than 640,000 weapons were turned in and destroyed. It took just 14 days–14 days!!!!!–for the gun reform to be written and passed. The best part? Since the 1996 reform was passed, guess how many mass shootings Australia has had? ZERO. Zero!

This doesn’t mean Australia doesn’t experience gun violence. Because we have guns, we will have gun violence. But we can stop the carnage where dozens of CHILDREN are being murdered. We can do it, Congress! I promise! And don’t you want to be involved in that?

I want to believe that you’ll do the right thing here. As your employer, I want to make sure you do. I think you sometimes forget you have a boss. And that boss is me. So fix this ridiculous situation, or I will do everything in my power to fire you. To make sure you’re never given the honor of “serving your people” again. To make sure you can never tweet things about “thoughts and prayers” and choke on your own hypocrisy.

Statistically, it’s unlikely it’ll be your kid who is shot by a murderer wielding an AR-15 and emptying 45 bullets a minute. There’s only 535 of you, and theres 323 million of the rest us. But can you imagine if it was your child? Can you picture getting the call? Can you feel the bile in your stomach rising, the scorching tears spilling? The nightmares you’ll have, picturing a bullet entering your child’s body? The pain of burying your baby’s body in the ground? Because there are 17 parents dealing with that today. And countless more from the crimes committed by these military grade weapons that have happened on your watch. THESE ARE NOT DRAMATICS, THAT IS THEIR REALITY.

DO BETTER.

Signed,

An angry parent & YOUR BOSS

PS: I’m fuming mad. I know this won’t change anything and you WON’T LISTEN TO US and I don’t understand it and I don’t know how you can sleep at night and let this continue to happen. Jesus come.

 

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Introverts and Politics

Let me start out by saying how much I cannot stand politics. Anything having to do with the word “election” gives me the heebie jeebies. I don’t put a lot of trust in humans to begin with (myself included), so when you give me a crop of people whose job it is to talk about themselves and convince people they are the bomb-dot-com, I have about -5% trust. But, as a responsible adult, I’ve been forcing myself to pay attention to this election cycle so I can make an “informed decision,” which, let’s be honest, is an oxymoron when we’re talking about politics.

While I’m 1000% not going to talk about the candidates or who I’m voting for, I do want to talk about the biggest smack in the face that I’ve realized this cycle: Can you imagine being an introverted politician?

Quiet

Let’s back up.

I’m an INFJ on the Myers-Briggs scale. It basically means I’m an outgoing introvert who can handle public speaking just fine, but with an added dose (or twenty) of the intuition-feeling component. I don’t mind social situations, but lordy do they suck the soul out of me. I enjoy spending time in groups of people (okay…enjoy is a strong word…) but when I get home I am utterly exhausted, both physically and mentally. There have been numerous occasions at which I’ve just cried because I had nothing left in me after being with people.

Which leads us, essentially, to the definition of an introvert, taken from Susan Cain’s 2012 interview with TIME: “The key is about stimulation: extroverts feel at their best and crave a high degree of stimulation. For introverts, the optimal zone is much lower.” Susan wrote an incredible (and incredibly well-researched) book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

I’ve watched Trump/Cruz/Rubio/Bush/Kasich/Clinton/Sanders and more debates than I care to say, on both sides of the aisle. And I get sick to my stomach thinking about doing what they do. We are talking 12+ hour work days, for months at a time. And all of those 12+ hours? SPENT WITH PEOPLE. Oh, the humanity.

On top of that, we see these people going out to a lovely dinner and being mobbed by their adoring (or not so adoring) fans, and shaking hands and kissing babies, and talking talking talking talking talking. I imagine there is no such thing as date night, and definitely no nap time. They’re talking to HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of humans. They are always on. It actually makes me nauseous thinking about it.

And you know what? Most of these people love it.

Which brings me to my point: Can an introvert be a politician? Especially, can they handle the stress to their systems that a presidential campaign would cause?

Matt and I were talking about it this week, and we know that neither of us could. And I bet that is true for most introverts. Yet………introverts are incredible critical thinkers. Amazing listeners. Creatives. And they are people who tend to only speak when they really have something to say.

Let’s look at some famous introverts: Albert Einstein, Warren Buffet, Rosa Parks, Mahatma Gandhi, Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling. We are in some good company. Along with some pretty good presidents: Lincoln, Jefferson, Madison, among others.

I thought this was isolated to presidents before the advent of TV and social media and ridiculously long presidential campaigns, but alas, our current POTUS is even said to be an introvert.

So can we be politicians? Technically, yes. But with around half of the country being introverted, I imagine most of us see the wild, wild world of campaigning and know that we’d never even entertain the idea of running for president–even though we may be the most qualified.

While I won’t use the “d” word (discrimination–okay so I used it), I will say that the current election system is not set up to allow introverts an adequate go at running the country. You’re automatically discounting TONS of people who could probably be actual bomb-dot-coms, but just not tell you all about it. We can think about it, and probably could have killer blogs or websites or books about our ideas and suggestions, but there’s seldom an introvert who can handle the campaign trail.

I’m not saying that extroverts shouldn’t be president, or that there is any type of hierarchy in the introvert-extrovert distinction. I’m simply saying that introverts could totally kick butt at running a country (or a company, for that matter), but it seems harder for them to reach the finish line (here being the general election) than it does extroverts. And when we start to look at things that way, where else are we drawing lines in the sand along the I/E border where one personality type is naturally forced out?

I’ll leave your wandering brain with this quote from Susan Cain, which surely is applicable not only to this argument, but to our society’s going-ons in general:

“It’s a culture that says it rewards authenticity, but it really rewards a curated, managed kind of authenticity. It’s not and will never be the authenticity of two friends sitting down and having a cup of coffee together and sharing the truth of their lives.”

Let’s change that.

xo, A
PS: You can buy Susan’s book “Quiet” here: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking