The Nashville School Shooting – Overcoming Hopelessness

5 min read
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Explain to me how we’re about to commemorate the Silver Anniversary of this nightmare? Explain it to me like I’m young enough to be gunned down in my classroom.

I wish I could tell you that I cried when I read the alerts coming in on my phone. I wish the updates made me gasp and reel in shock. I wish that I was stunned or even in denial of the crimes being described and discussed at length on every news channel. But no tears fell for those three precious children. Or for the staff members, Cynthia and Katherine. Or even for Mr. Hill, the custodian who — aside from the updated style of his glasses — bore a striking resemblance to Mr. Sanders, my own beloved school custodian in Texas years ago. No, the only things that fell today after taking in two days of coverage of the latest of 129 mass shootings in America this year (yes, read that stat again…) were my shoulders and my head. My entire body sank into itself. How. Are. We. Still. HERE??!!??
Photo by Alex Boyd on Unsplash
Photo by Mary Oakey on Unsplash

The news of Columbine jolted my entire college campus nearly 24 years ago. I was on the radio live covering the Tucson shooting, which included Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, 12 years ago. I did an emergency on-air special briefing for the (at the time unfathomable) Newtown shooting 11 years ago. I held the hands of Parkland parents who lost a child five years ago.

Someone, please, explain to me how we are about to commemorate the Silver f*%king Anniversary of this national nightmare?? Explain it to me like I’m young enough to be randomly gunned down on a Monday in my classroom.

What you have to almost admire is the brazen honesty of those who have made it their personal mission to NOT stop this. Almost. Take Tim Burchett, a Congressman supposedly representing the actual breathing people in Tennessee (as opposed to the murderous toys he worships). The Republican-led Congress in Washington, he said, “is not going to fix it.” That’s an exact quote. He’s not going to fix it, everyone, so don’t bother wondering if THESE will be the tiny little coffins that finally weigh on his conscience. He also added a request for all of us to all “tone down” our outrage. Could we just stop getting SO upset about these shootings you guys??

The U.S. Capitol, completely overrun by spineless jellyfish. Original AI artwork by Shawna Presley Vercher.

Rep. Andy Ogles, Tennessee, poses with his family and weapons of death with an unintentionally ironic sign which reads “Peace and Joy”.
To be fair, he’s correct in a way. Are we allowed to be surprised when certain Grifting Odious People show us time and again that our children are an acceptable sacrifice to their almighty ammunition god? Take a look at the guy who receives a tax-funded salary to represent the Nashville families impacted, State Representative Andy Ogles. He sends out holiday cards that show the true meaning of Christmas as the Bible intended: scarves, Santa hats, and semi-automatic weapons. His name LITERALLY means to stand back and do nothing but watch. This dude is saving no one.

Feeling hopeless yet? Because I am. I want to get annoyed when my teenager doesn’t clean her room and fret over the extra ten pounds I can’t lose before Summer. What happened to that level of stress? I don’t want to console prior shooting victims who have PTSD or help organize with parents who relive their own incalculable losses every single time one of these slaughters penetrate the news cycle.

How do we keep fighting the smug jerk faces who are somehow annoyed when we bring up dying children? How do we find the energy to push through monumental challenges when daily challenges in our lives are not exactly a walk in the park? And how do we stay focused on this particular horrible awful thing when — buried on pages two and three of the news feeds — are eighteen other equally horrible awful things?

The simple answer, the answer we don’t want to hear or acknowledge, is that we will do it because we have to. Monsters masquerading as thought leaders and spineless jellyfish pretending to be very manly men in charge have done this to all of us, and that’s not fair. We are all trauma victims and our children are in real danger, and that’s not even a reasonable way to exist. Yet here we are. Still.

I’m going to ask you to write down, somewhere, what you feel right now. Keep it secret. Keep it safe. Then read it about two months before the next big election in your area (or, put another way, six weeks after you feel like you’re going to vomit from the wall-to-wall election coverage). Remember every name of every spineless jellyfish and make them pay by taking away the only thing they seem to care about: their pathetic version of power. Get loud. Get fearless. And Vote. Them. Out. We don’t have the luxury of hopelessness. Thanks to them, we are all in a war zone now. They have taken away any other option but for us to try and survive. And the only way to do that is to fight like hell.

Shawna Presley Vercher is a national media strategist and reluctant organizer for initiatives such as Fearless Vote. Her current goals include seeing her daughter survive to a naturally old age, and to be able to help other people while not asking skeevy rich weirdos for political contributions to fund her work.

Get involved at or find her on social media so she can amplify your own fearless efforts.