Lament for My Nation

Pray for America.  Photo by Callen Harty.

Pray for America. Photo by Callen Harty.

This is the sound of my nation–not the beat, beat, beating of hearts, but the rat-tat-tatting of guns. This is the soul of my nation—not the compassion of kindred souls, but the dispassionate death knell wrought by random violence.

Again–again!–we recoil in horror at senseless violence wrought by a crazed individual with guns and no respect for life–their own or others.

America, I weep for your people.

I cannot grasp it. I cannot wrap myself around the idea that in anyone’s mind it makes sense to shoot and kill other human beings, to fire upon defenseless children. Cowardice is too kind of a word for these senseless, selfish acts.

America, I weep for your children.

But it is not just a lone killer. It is not just one man killing more than two dozen children and others in Connecticut. It’s also a man shooting four relatives on a reservation in California, two men setting fire to four victims in Colorado, a young man shooting three people in a mall in Oregon, murders in every city in America every day of every month of every year with the use of every imaginable weapon. New York City recently celebrated 36 hours without a murder, and then a man was shot in the back of his head on a public street in front of a school.

America, I weep for your wounds.

Who are we? We must seriously ask this. Who are we as a nation and a people that these events repeat themselves like an endless echo in a canyon of lost souls? It is time to look in the mirror, to look deep into our souls and question why we are like this.

I have no answers—today I have only sorrow—but I must ask these questions. We must all ask these questions. Unless it is already too late and we are already too lost as a country we must ask these questions and together we must try to find the answers. We cannot continue this way. We cannot walk through the blood of our brothers and sisters and pretend there is no blood on our shoes and no stains on our souls.

America, I weep for your lost innocence.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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