Emotion Empathy Law Public Health

Through the Green Lens

By Rana Moawad

When will we learn that children belong running around, not lying under the dirt?

School days are interrupted by loud bangs of shots and dead bodies hitting the hard ground. Only 150 days in 2023, and we had 263 mass shootings, but who is counting anyway? Mass shootings are becoming the new norm; we scroll past the news reports like we are scrolling through ads. I refuse to be negligent of our children’s plight. Wearing my medical student white coat means I have a duty to serve my community. I joined Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley (PNLV) to end gun violence.

While interviewing community members at PNLV on their views of healthcare, I met “Green.” She embodies the story of many women before and after her. A daughter of an immigrant woman trapped in an abusive relationship, Green ran away from home when she was 11 years old. She survived the streets and bore two boys.  It was not long until the violence outside made its way into their home.  No mother should have to say a final goodbye to her 17-year-old son, gone too soon from the bullets. A child is gone and another is in prison. Yet still, guns here and there.

How much more can the fragile heart take before it shatters? They say they care about people like us, but all they see is a paycheck waiting to come. Never taking the time to listen, but they call themselves healers and changers. Listen to our pain and our hardships, and maybe then you will make a difference. Do this, do that, take this, take that; medicine is nothing but a to-do list, with practitioners needing to take the time to listen. They tell me I have this disease and that, but do they even know my name? If they took the time to listen, they would see the Green I embody. 

Inside her green eyes lie the stories of those before her and those to come: a warrior, a grandmother, a mother, and an activist. She stands for all those who do not have a voice.

When will we fight together to prevent gun violence? Gun violence is killing our youth, waiting for the next victim…would that be me or you?

Bullets are flying. Children are dying. We need to change this broken system. We need gun regulations. We need more robust background checks and decrease easy access to dangerous weapons. Green stands up for all mothers so they can hug their children to bed rather than their pillows, soaked with tears and what-ifs.

Green embodies the story of many women before and after her. She taught me the true meaning of medicine. We must advocate for our community to heal our children and invest in our future.

My time at PNLV taught me that just like Green’s life, our communities have the potential to be like newly green-cut grass with hope and potential waiting to flourish where our children can safely play instead of lying seven feet under.

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