Monday, June 19, 2017

Civic Engagement

The rent-a-cop took our picture in the courtyard outside Senator Flake's Tucson office.  I'm certain that I would outrun him in a race to shelter, but it was nice of the organizers to consider some small measure of security for our group meeting with the Senator's staff.  Jeff Flake is considered to be wavering on his support for TrumpCare; we were there to tell our stories and ask for his vote.

I'd begged off on the previously scheduled sidewalk demonstration; I don't feel comfortable being that exposed.  But following gunfire at a baseball game with chanting and protesting about health care seemed an odd mix to the OFA organizers; the sign waving piece was deferred to another time.

I was fine with an inside the office sit-down.  The office feels very safe to me; I visit there at least once a month to share an opinion or two.  I look around, as I always do.  I'm aware of places to hide, of escape routes, of unlocked doors and out-of-the-way niches.  It's second nature to me now, like breathing out and breathing in.  It doesn't interrupt the flow; it's just there.

After introductions and photo ops we went in to meet with the Senator's District Director, a lovely woman who always has a sympathetic ear.  She's smart and personable and thoughtful and she seemed touched by our leader's expressions of condolence and admiration for the Senator.

"He'd deny that he was a hero.  He would say that he did what anyone would do in that situation.  But yes, he was there...."

and she looked right at me.  I looked right back at her, eyeball to eyeball, and nodded.  "Yes, and now he knows.... and maybe he will take some time and think about the issue in a different light."

I didn't want to hijack the agenda, but the point had to be made. Being in the cross-hairs, feeling the bullets ripping through the morning air, seeing the blood, hearing the ambulances, experiencing that eerie quiet before the screaming.... it changed me in a visceral fashion, in a way that reading and hearing and watching could not.

TBG and I are mailing him a letter tomorrow, telling him how sorry we are that he's joined the club. No one wants to be a member of this club, yet here we are, survivors, those who were there, who lived it first hand, and who are here to tell the tale.

I wonder if his tale will be different now.

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