My Country ‘Tis of Thee

My Country ‘Tis of Thee

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.

I happened to be down in Hoover, Alabama, for the SEC Baseball Tournament when I heard the horrific news. Another crazed gunman had opened fire at an elementary school, killing nineteen defenseless kids before law enforcement officials ended his rampage.

The contrast couldn’t have been more unsettling. Here I was in my happy place, watching a sporting event I loved, surrounded by thousands of other fans and their families, gleefully enjoying the liberties and freedoms of residing in arguably the greatest nation on the face of the earth.

Meanwhile, less than a thousand miles away in Uvalde, Texas, the parents of murdered ten-year-olds were undergoing unimaginable horror—being asked to submit DNA samples because their children’s bullet-mangled faces were disfigured beyond recognition.

Reports of the soul-shattering sobs of anguished moms and dads being informed of the slaughter gave me pause. CNN interviewing a heartbroken father crying over the loss of his beloved daughter stopped me dead in my tracks.

Like many of you, I was sickened by the news—repulsed, revolted, and on the verge of outrage. Baseball suddenly took a back seat to the real-life drama going on around me. For most of us, sports are just a pleasant distraction anyway. The end of a season pales in comparison to the end of a life—especially twenty-one lives cut way too short.

Unfortunately, reports of these tragedies have become far too common. Sandy Hook, Columbine, Marjory Stoneman Douglas—they roll off our tongue like a John Calipari word salad. Virginia Tech, Umpqua Community College, Cal State Fullerton—the list goes on and on.

To make matters worse, you can’t confine the carnage to just schools and colleges. As we’ve all been reminded of recently, we’re all open targets while shopping in supermarkets, worshipping in churches, and strolling through malls…or perhaps even cheering our teams on at the ballpark.

What’s more, every time we’re faced with a tragedy, we offer up a moment of silence, gather together in prayer, and resolve to make lasting changes. And yet, changes never come.

As a wide-eyed, impressionable four-year-old, I immigrated with my parents to America in 1963. No sooner had we arrived on the shores of freedom, the President of the United States gets his head blown off with a high-powered rifle.

Not long after that, Charles Whitman takes human target practice from the observation tower on the University of Texas campus, killing 14 and wounding 31. Less than two years later, Martin Luther King Jr. goes down to an assassin’s bullet, followed likewise by Robert F. Kennedy. You think those events didn’t impact my prepubescent brain? Of course they did. My thoughts haven’t changed much since then.

I’m Chinese, and Chinese people don’t usually own guns (btw, there aren’t many mass shootings in China). I’ve never owned a gun. The only time I’ve fired an assault rifle was on the range during my time in the Army, so I don’t really understand the American love affair with high-caliber firearms. But I do have good friends who’ll go to the grave protecting the second amendment. After all, America stands proudly as the land of the free and home of the brave. I get it.

But there comes a point when you have to say enough is enough. A country that can’t protect its most vulnerable citizens is not a country worth defending with your life. Whether gun issue, mental health issue, or hot-potato political issue, it’s high time for the highfalutin bigwigs in our nation’s capital to band together and collectively do what’s right and needed for humanity’s sake.

Comprehensive background checks for gun owners and gun violence restraining orders are an obvious first step. That to me is a no-brainer. The best way to stop these mass shootings is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Go a step further and reinstitute the universal ban on assault weapons and crack down on high-capacity magazines. Make it mandatory and easy for students to report perceived threats amongst themselves. Power-hungry politicians need to quit pandering to the cash cow that is the NRA.

If those actions restrict our freedoms, so be it. We made the same concessions when the towers went down. It’s the price we pay for living in a civilized nation. Despite our growing divisiveness, I still think the United States of America remains the greatest nation on earth.

I’ve got a six-year-old nephew who I love sharing time with. I can’t imagine dropping him off at school for the very last time ever. Or taking him to a ballpark for a bullet through his brain. And yet, that’s exactly what I’ve been despondent about over the past forty-eight hours. It’s exactly what our country should have been obsessing over for the past forty-eight years.

We can do better. We NEED to do better!

My country, ‘tis of thee

Sweet land of liberty

For this I…GRIEVE!

Land where my neighbors died

Land of political pride

From every mountainside

Let bullets reign.