We’re a fearful people, we Americans.

We’re afraid someone is going to come and take our stuff.

We’re afraid someone who thinks differently, or doesn’t look like us, is going to come and infect us with their otherness.

We’re afraid of the multifarious phantoms cable news warns us of.

We’re afraid someone near us might be having unsanctioned sex. We’re afraid we won’t get to have sex ourselves. Or we’re afraid we will.

We afraid of the fearless, and mock the free of spirit in a desperate effort to drag them into our fear.

We fear the strong, we fear the weak.

We fear that someone, somewhere, might have something we don’t—or can’t—have.

But more than anything, we’re afraid of taking control of our fear, of not letting it define us. We’d rather arm ourselves to the teeth than acknowledge the destructive effect of proliferation of guns in our culture. Of her poem at the 5-2, Rachel Lynn McGuire says, “We, who were not the parents and teachers directly affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, could only do so much to show solidarity with and support for the victims and their families. This poem is an expression of what little I felt I could do at the time.”

Her poem, I believe, is a lot. It is the voice of an individual, and if enough of us speak, together we can be heard over the din of collective fear.

FOR NEWTOWN

by Rachel Lynn McGuire

find the candles. light them
find the pictures. bring them
find the flowers

all their favorite flowers
all the flowers in the world if
that’s what it takes

and find the mothers
the crying mothers who just
want their babies back. hold them

find the blood in your own veins
see that it is red red human blood that
we all bleed

find the thump thump of your own heartbeat
and be grateful that today
was not the day you died