I’ve been traveling for four months now. I haven’t seen all of the world – so far, just a few small pockets – but I have met tons and tons of people, most of whom are not Americans. I’ve learned so much about how we are perceived in the world. It’s been a stark, and sometimes humiliating education.

On one hand, a lot of people (not all, but definitely a lot) think we’re great. We have great TV and great fashion and the freedom and balls to be whoever we want. Good for us, we win.

Except. There’s another hand, and this one has smacked me across the face multiple times. And now I’m going to smack you. Are you ready?

Here’s how a whole bunch of non-Americans see us:

We’re ignorant.

We don’t know anything about the world, outside of our chunk of land. We don’t know where other countries are on a map, or what languages they speak, or what might be happening in those places. We don’t even know how to say the names of those countries. And we don’t give a crap, because…

We’re arrogant.

We think we’re the best, and that we have nothing to learn from anyone else. Even though our country has astoundingly, embarrassingly awful problems with {poverty} {hunger} {mass incarceration} {teen pregnancies} {education} {eating disorders} {bullying} {suicide} {drug addiction} {mental illness} {racism} {rape} {healthcare} {environmental destruction} {FREAKING GUN VIOLENCE} – despite all of this, we think we know it all. Nothing to learn from anyone, we’ve got it covered, thanks, we’re America.

The greatest country on the planet.

We all crazy for our guns.

Now hoooooold up a minute.

I will not disagree with the first two – I totally thought Sacha Baron Cohen made up Kazakhstan, for like yeeeears. And I’m certain I’m arrogant sometimes. Okay. But I take extreme, seething exception to this last one. I am an American, and I even grew up in Texas, but I do not own a gun.

I don’t own a gun, and it’s not because I hate guns. I’ve shot plenty of guns in my life. My Nan-Nan had one on her farm when we were kids, and we shot at cans and had a great time – it’s honestly one of my favorite childhood memories. Sometimes I go to the shooting range with my girlfriends because that shit is fun and makes you feel like a boss.

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I’m with you, y’all. Guns can be loads of fun.

But you know what’s not fun?

BEING SHOT BY SOME ASSHOLE IN A NIGHT CLUB.

I will gladly relinquish those childhood memories or the fun I might have at a gun range, or even my personal “protection” if it means we might have saved the lives of the 50(+?) people killed last night in Orlando, or the 6,000 people killed already this year, or the 20 little angelbabies who died at Sandy Hook. Or how about that kid in my elementary school who was accidentally shot by his little brother? Or beautiful young Christina Grimmie? What about them?

“Nope. Don’t care about all of those people, as long as I get to sit here with my gun, waiting for the bad guys to come, because I am so important that probably everyone wants to hurt me.” Right. That makes perfect sense.

IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE, GET OVER YOURSELF.

Here’s the thing you’re not getting: Nobody fucking cares about you. No one is out to get you. Seriously. They don’t even know you exist. But somehow, we’ve got it in our heads that everyone wants to hurt us, and take all our stupid stuff, and so we invite these deadly things into our homes and our churches and our night clubs.

Do you get how crazy that is? It’s arrogant and ignorant and dangerous. Six-thousand-people-this-year-dangerous. Fifty-people-last-night-dangerous. Quantifiably, undeniably dangerous.

And yeah, okay, maybe guns aren’t the reason people shoot each other. Maybe it’s hatred or pain or sometimes* mental illness (things which, by the way, we’re not doing anything about either). But here’s the reality, you guys: PEOPLE ARE USING GUNS TO SHOOT PEOPLE. They’re not using their angry brainwaves or their homophobia or their overwhelming pain or their irrational crazy thoughts or even their misguided, polluted religious beliefs. They are literally using guns. Because they can. Because we allow it.

So let’s get rid of them.

Even though they can sometimes be fun. Even though you or I or someone we know may be the less than .0001% of the population who is attacked by a stranger and needs defending. Even though guns are only a part of the problem.

Let’s just try it.

They did it in Australia and it worked. Twenty years ago, they took away everyone’s guns, and they haven’t had a mass shooting since. It literally worked, guys.

And okay, America’s different than Australia. Maybe it won’t work the same way here. Say we take away all the guns, and the bad guys still get them and they keep shooting up churches. Or they use bombs or airplanes instead. Maybe that happens and people still die. It’s possible.

BUT AT LEAST WE WILL HAVE FUCKING TRIED SOMETHING.

We are not even trying, you guys.

We’re not researching why this happens. We’re not looking at how other countries have handled this nonsense. We’re not trying to understand why people in the world might hate us this much.

We are being willfully ignorant and unabashedly arrogant, and we are sitting here blaming everyone else and doing fuck-all nothing.

And I can’t figure out why. Maybe we think this is normal?

YOU GUYS. THIS IS NOT NORMAL.

Maybe we don’t realize it because we’re not paying attention to the rest of the world or because it happens basically every couple of days now so we’ve become numb to it.

But this doesn’t actually happen everywhere. Not like this. It happens some, yes. But not like this.

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We have the most guns, and we have the most gun-related deaths, but we will not acknowledge the correlation.

The world sees us as crazy, and they’re right. We are acting completely, 100% crazy. We’re not changing anything, but we’re expecting things to change. The greatest country in the world – a country that’s full of brilliant, energetic, passionate people with gigantic balls – has thrown up its hands and given up.

And you know what? I guess I’ve given up too. I’ve never called my representative or written a letter asking them to do something about this, because I guess I probably don’t believe they will.

But this is all we have, isn’t it? This fucked up system is what we’ve got to work with, so for the sake of the LGBTQI community, and the 50 killed people last night and 6,000 this year, and how many more in the future, LET’S FUCKING FLOOD IT. 

Here’s how.

Let’s not just shake our head and say “that’s so horrible” or post on facebook that we’re “sending love.”

Send love, that’s fine. But also send a letter. Make a phone call. Go sit in your lawmaker’s office and demand they fucking do something.

I want to believe it’s possible that it could actually work. I do believe it. I believe we can be the great country we say we are.

I’m not giving up anymore.

Christina Grimmie
March 12, 1994 – June 10, 2016

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*Thank you Sarah for sending me this article about the implications of automatically assuming a connection between mass shootings and mental illness.

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