Today’s news of yesterday’s shooting at the line-dancing bar in Thousand Oaks was particularly rough to stomach. Every mass shooting is gut-wrenchingly devastating, but ones that we can place ourselves in, or where we are more directly connected to the victims (I had friends who lost friends there that night) seem to amplify the sadness and anger and fear that much more. Country music, dancing, a “safe” town. These are all things we should be able to freely enjoy and take for granted. I don’t want to be afraid to go to my favorite bars, to enjoy singing with friends at Stagecoach, to worship in church on a Sunday morning, to go to a sporting event, a movie, to send my kids to school someday. We shouldn’t have to look for exits at stadiums or theaters to plan our escape if something horrible were to go wrong. Or think through what we would do if a shooter were to walk in a room. But in America this is our reality now when the news is littered with these nightmarish headlines. You may say you’re not going to let fear win, and that we shouldn’t choose to focus on the worst case scenario, but how many more times will this happen, how many degrees of separation til it gets to your own kin until you decide it’s time to take drastic measures? I’m too tired to try to engage the gun laws conversation in my words at the moment. And I know there are deeper heart and mind issues that need to be addressed and approached with urgent and gentle care. But these mountains aren’t un-scalable. And we need people who are up for the task. I’m so hopeful that we’ll be the generation that brings the utter demolition of mass shootings, and all murders by guns for that matter. Let’s fight with a certainty that believes and says, “This is the very last time.” Rest in peace dear ones. I promise to keep fighting in your honor.