By Bren Dubay
In Arthur Miller’s play, All My Sons, Joe Keller sells and ships defective airplane engine parts to the military. It is World War II. Twenty-one airmen die in crashes as a result of the cracked cylinder heads. By the end of the play, Keller realizes then grieves as he chokes out the words, “…they were all my sons…” He has spent the entire play proclaiming his love for family and country. He has allowed his business partner and next-door neighbor to go to prison for the crime.
I was in a production of All My Sons in college. “They were all my sons.” The line haunted me then. It haunts me all these many, many years later.
Uvalde. They were all our daughters and sons.
Buffalo. They were all our brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents, neighbors and friends, cousins, and aunts and uncles.
Sandy Hook. They were all our sons. They were all our daughters.
A partial list – Oxford, Collierville, Hialeah, San Jose, Colorado Springs, Indianapolis, Rock Hill, Orange, Boulder, Atlanta, Buffalo (Minnesota), Muskogee, and Sunrise in 2021.
Rockford, Wauwatosa, Henderson, Rochester, Washington (D.C.), Springfield, Milwaukee, and Grantsville in 2020.
Jersey City, Pensacola, Miramar, Fresno, Santa Clarita, Orinda, San Juan, Midland-Odessa, Dayton, El Paso, Gilroy, Virginia Beach, Highlands Ranch, Charlotte, Poway, Aurora, Ascension, Livingston, Sebring in 2019.
In 2018 — Parkland
In 2016 – Orlando
In 2015 – Charleston
In 2007 – Blacksburg
In 1999 – Columbine
This is a partial list of mass shootings.
They are all our people.
What can we do? Vote? Weep? Political action? Grieve? March? Pray? Rage? All these things?
Shall we stay angry, lament, let our grief and anger propel us to take action — to build a better, safer world for the children? For everyone.
If we believe what Jesus taught us — that the greatest commandment is to Love God and Love Others as Ourselves — then there is no such thing as a stranger. There are only neighbors. Not someone else’s family, someone else’s problem. Ours.
What we must not do is forget. The anger will subside. Look at the above list. The grief fades as our day-to-day lives take over and we “get back to normal.” What is normal? Certainly not this violence against one another. Please, God, no. Please let this not be our “normal.” We must not grow weary of doing good. We must not be silent. We must fight to create a better world. A safer world. For everyone.
They are all our sons and daughters.