By Angela Nicole Parker
There are signs when a mighty tree is dying.
Its green leaves turn brown and fall off; the bark follows, the tree begins to lean as the open woods and fungus and rot take hold; the roots finally, after bearing witness to years of history give way and it falls where it stood — black, broken and sad.
An ugly sight.
America is a dying tree. A nation in decline that is drowning in violence, hate, poverty, selfishness and indifference.
We stand in line to watch movie stars batter each other in court over who is the most abusive, become ingulfed in the mess and ignorance of others “realities,” care more about likes and subscribers from nameless, faceless “friends” then we care about our neighbors.
We are a nation that’s decaying at its roots.
Some will argue that we have always been corrupted; that a nation birthed in war; built by slavery; nurtured by blood, sweat and inequity, could ever really thrive. Yet, we believed we would.
We continue to fight for that more perfect union we so desire, but does a nation that has decided that its children are dispensable, worth nothing more than a weapon to be used in campaigns, have a future?
In the past two decades, there have been an estimated 900 incidents involving guns on our school campuses and we’ve done nothing and will do nothing. Since 1963, 186,239 children and teens have been killed due to gun violence — four times the number of U.S. soldiers killed in action in the Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq wars combined.
According to statistics provided by the Children’s Defense Fund, in 2017, nine children and teens were killed with guns each day in America — one every 2 hours and 34 minutes.
Gun violence was the second leading cause of death for children and teens ages 1-19 and the leading cause for Black children and teens, claiming more child lives than cancer, pneumonia, influenza, asthma, HIV/AIDS and opioids combined.
Yet, politicians will continue to get on television offering thoughts and prayers while doubling down on the policies that lead to this type of carnage, and they will do it with impunity because they know the very people who are hurt by their policies will continue to vote for them because the fear of being replaced is stronger than their desire to live in peace; the pull for some lost past that never existed seems more desirable than a future truly built on liberty and justice for all.
We are a nation decaying at our roots.
We are full of thoughts and prayers that are hallow and hypocritical and perfunctory at this point. We have become like the characters in “The Wizard of Oz” — in search of heart, courage and a brain. Zombies who seem more at home in our death cult than we ever did in the light.
Can a dead tree be revived? Yes, but the chances are slim.
I am an optimist. I’d like to believe that we can turn things around, but I just don’t see the will to do it. Everywhere I look, I see complacency and a curious resolve to accept whatever new fresh hell tomorrow may bring and while I know that you can never revive the entirety of a tree, you can create new roots and revive the root system, but you must work at it, and the question is, do we as a nation have the collected will to do what is necessary to stay upright.
Will we ever have enough of the violence? Time will tell, but unfortunately, time is not on our side.
Angela Nicole Parker is a writer from South Los Angeles.