This year, things are different.
No, we have not solved the problem of hunger for the more than 16 million children in this country who don't get the food they need to grow and thrive. In fact, in this presidential election year, we're not talking very much about children, or nutrition, or education, or seniors or poverty or food deserts or school lunch programs or GMOs or healthy meals for families.
Sadly, we're not talking loudly enough about the epidemic of gun violence, either, and how it might relate to childhood hunger. The news, filled with reports of hate speech from those who wish to be president, also reminds us that nearly every day a child playing at home, or a woman in an abusive domestic situation, or a clerk at a corner store, dies from a gun shot. And, yes, mass shootings. And gun violence at the hands of police. An epidemic of gun violence.
According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, researchers estimate that gun violence costs the American economy at least $229 billion every year, including $8.6 billion in direct expenses, like emergency services and medical care.
Could we end childhood hunger in America with that $229 billion a year? Yes, we could, or we could get close. Think of all we could do with just $8.6 billion.
While we wait for Congress to find its backbone and enact meaningful laws to curtail access to guns in this country (and hats off to Connecticut and California, where governors have taken executive action to close loopholes, and to President Obama, who may take executive action very soon to require background checks), I can only think of one way to stop this madness, and that is to vote.
Vote, with your heart, with your dollars, with your keyboard. Use social media every day, to let your senators and Congressional representative, your state legislators and governors and mayors, know that if they do not actively support an end to gun violence, you will not vote for them.
We can do so much good with $229 billion. We can feed our children, and give them a strong start in life.
Voting is our superpower. Please vote.
And, if you can spare a few dollars, consider supporting one or both of these organizations that are working to end childhood hunger and gun violence (each of these logos is a link to the organization's web site), or support your local food bank:
Thank you, and happy new year to all.
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