I’ve written a number of posts in response to the gun violence problem in this country, mostly expressing my dismay and outrage that our government has done little to nothing to address the problem, while thousands die every year.
Thankfully, my life has not been directly touched by gun violence. No one I know has been a victim of a shooting. But I abhor violence of all kinds, and I feel genuine pain and sadness with every death reported in the media and at the thought of the thousands that I never hear a thing about.
And all the while I find it unconscionable that nothing is being done about this.
Over the same period, namely the past few years, another trend was going on that I didn’t see as connected … until this week.
While no one I know has been a victim of gun violence, over the past few years an increasing number of people I know, as well as people I have admired and have been inspired by from afar, have been diagnosed with and/or have died from …
In the past few months alone I have simply lost count. Cancer feels closer to me than ever before, even though I lost my mother to the disease years ago, and even though I’m a survivor myself, of a rare and not terribly dangerous deep tissue skin cancer, diagnosed and treated in 2001, and cancer-free ever since.
It seems that every other day I hear of someone else battling or losing the battle with cancer. Just this past weekend I visited a dear friend in the hospital who has been through unimaginable hell during his treatment.
And today, the thought suddenly occurred to me:
If I’m outraged by the lack of action from our government on gun violence, what about our government’s efforts to address the cancer epidemic, which kills MANY more people per year than guns?
Looking at the $5.21 billion annual budget for the National Cancer Institute — the U.S. federal cancer research organization — it might seem like our government is doing a heckuva lot.
BUT, when you consider that the U.S. government spends over 100 TIMES THAT ($599 billion) on the military, with over 10 TIMES the cancer budget alone ($64 billion) spent specifically on our new-normal perpetual war, and if you consider that another national and international crisis needing urgent attention, climate change, only gets $21 billion…
… well, that’s a clear case of fucked up national priorities.