Originally Published in The Huffington Post
Last week, I was taking pictures at my son’s elementary school’s winter concert. The kindergartners were dressed as elephants, monkeys and other animals; my son was wearing the zebra costume. The children were singing; the parents were clapping. It was like watching The Lion King on Broadway.
Then on Friday, as I was getting those pictures printed, news broke of a gunman killing 27 people including 20 children at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newton, CT. As CNN reported, a teacher consoled the terrified children by saying, “a wild animal has entered the school.”
Wild animals. As if killing Mufasa in The Lion King was not enough, the wild animals now killed 20 beautiful flowers at the Sandy Hook school on the 14th of December 2012; a soon to be forgotten date.
That’s painful but true. The president accepted that, “we’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years.” Since 2000, over 75 school shootings across America have claimed the lives of over 150 people. The majority of casualties in the previous, or the current Newton CT., shootings were children. Do you remember the dates of these tragedies?
No. Because the interest groups — these Scars and hyenas — control the narrative. Just watch for a week. As the Christmas sales take a dip and the fiscal cliff rise above us, a new narrative will be engineered and the old status quo will be protected.
When Mufasa, the Lion King, is slain in the movie, his young son Simba escapes. Avoiding the facts was his way of finding solace. Unfortunately, as more of our future lions fall to these gunmen in the American Pride Land, those claiming to be Mufasas are avoiding the facts. Even the President has — despite resorting to healing words on two separate occasions past week — avoided any tough action against gun violence. No surprise the Brady Gun Violence Prevention Report Card gave him an “F” grade.
The result? The circle of death continues. And we, the parents, are left numb.
As I hug my kindergartener tonight, I cannot imagine the agony of those who are grieving. How do you deal with such a lopsided circle of life where a father has to bury his son?
Pride Land is reeling and the little zebras, monkeys and elephants are looking up to the lions. The lions of parenting — who should spend quality time with children instead of using gadgets and violent video games as babysitters; the lions of NRA — who should support the ban on automatic assault rifles and high count magazines instead of touting for more guns; the lions of video game industry — who should stop selling violent games to minors instead of rewarding them points for killing; the lions of Congress — who should “take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics” — as the President said — instead of playing party politics.
Just being a lion was no honor in the movie. Scar too, was a lion. But he was conniving. The calculated silence of special interest groups at these tragic times raises questions towards their real identity. Are they playing Scar?
But Mr. President, you are our Mufasa. You cannot say that “each time I learn the news I react not as a President, but as anybody else would — as a parent.” Let us — the mothers, fathers and teachers — react as parents but you must react as a President. You must react as Mufasa; the strong responsible leader of this Pride Land where Scars and hyenas are abusing their second amendment rights. In Newton, you went just as far to say, “…In the coming weeks, I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.” That’s not enough Mufasa. Losing 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7 in Newton CT. should be to the world of gun violence what 9/11 was to the world of terrorism. It demands a more robust and urgent response.
You must act quickly. You must protect the Pride Land. Are you even listening Mufasa?
Scar just killed Simba. You must defeat him.
Dr. Faheem Younus is a clinical associate professor at the University of Maryland. He is the founder of Muslimerican.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @FaheemYounus.
Follow Dr. Faheem Younus on Twitter: www.twitter.com/FaheemYounus