Silence is Deafening

Silence is Deafening

The Silence following Orlando is Deafening

The silence was deafening.

Last week, when we awoke on Sunday morning and heard the news, when our hearts were broken with the thought of the lives ended too soon, the fractured families, and the anguish and shock of what had happened, most of our state lawmakers said nothing.

We identified with the pain felt by the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and children, with the lifetimes of mourning yet to come, but most of our state lawmakers said nothing.

When we experience a tragedy like the one that occurred at Pulse in Orlando last week, our eyes are on our leaders for comfort, assurance and guidance. They have the attention of thousands upon thousands of citizens of our state. When we entrust them with our vote, they have a responsibility to lead us through hard times.

Before any investigation had been done as to the cause, before anything was known about the killer, before any kind of debate had begun about mental illness, terrorism, or gun rights, we knew that more than 100 people had been killed or injured. We knew that families would face the loss of their loved ones, that victims will spend months in recovery and rehabilitation, and that all of Orlando would experience devastating loss. We knew this was the deadliest mass shooting on American soil.

And yet fewer than 10 of 33 state Senators posted an acknowledgement of any kind. Their silence was deafening.

I am running for the TN state Senate in District 14, which includes Rutherford County and parts of southern Middle Tennessee. I chose for my campaign the motto “Enough Is Enough,” and that usually relates to the frustration my fellow citizens feel on kitchen table issues.

We have 300,000 Tennesseans without health insurance, 16,000 of those in Rutherford County. They are working, but don’t make enough to afford health care. Most lawmakers have said nothing.

Tennessee is 9th in the nation for both accidental shootings and for gun violence against women. They’ve said nothing.

Traffic is making getting around Middle Tennessee next to impossible. The trip to Nashville that once took 30 minutes or so now clocks in over an hour. They’ve said nothing.

We’ve seen an unprecedented amount of divisive legislation on social issues. It’s gotten so bad that conventions are leaving Nashville, hurting our entire region’s economy. These bills have passed, but most lawmakers have said nothing.

So their silence is not at all unusual, but in this case, it alludes to something much darker. Whatever their positions on guns, on equality, on extremism and terrorism, our differences on these issues, at best, point to a sincere policy disagreement. But in the case of Orlando, most state lawmakers appear to lack the basic empathy that it takes to acknowledge 49 Americans dead.

Their silence was deafening. It speaks louder than their words ever could.