Recently, I was at the Hollywood Bowl, a Los Angeles staple where you can enjoy music under the stars. It was a celebration of Tchaikovsky.
I was seated next to a gentleman, our first meeting. His eyes told a story, not Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, but more like Sleeping Beauty or the awakening of a giant.
The music filled that space, the entire sky, with its soft tones and jarring beats and flurry of fireworks evolving into sounds and visions of gunshots and bloodied hands and lost lives.
With a preference for being defined as a compassionate human being, a father and a husband, the gentle giant was Gerald Levin, the former Chairman of Time Warner.
Jerry’s life is no fairy tale.
His son, an unassuming teacher in the Bronx, was gunned down, a single shot to the head, murdered by a student years ago.
He said, “Everyday, it feels like it was yesterday.” Time, ironically, absurdly, stands still for Jerry. “I live in a state of loss, thinking about my son, his last moments, his thoughts, and his final breath. Every bullet is personal for me.”
Jonathan Levin’s dreams ended instantly, shamefully and unnecessarily.
Last week, ticket holders in Louisiana, preparing to enjoy the witty and hilarious humor of Amy Schumer, were struck, a series of gunshots rifling through the audience.
There was no punch line, only blood, death and tragedy at the hand of a gunman.
We now know, or think we know, that the train wreck of a shooting was not random, but the target of a misogynist seeking to intentionally support his anti-feminist and, anti-Semitic agenda through human elimination.
Amy Schumer tweeted her response: “My heart is broken…”
As I sat there with Jerry, I realized that hearts, truly broken, do not heal.
"Trainwreck," the movie, will always be associated with loss and mangled hearts for those who were there and for the family and friends who will always remember.
Three years ago, we endured the Dark Knight of the soul in Aurora, Texas. Twelve were murdered there, blood spattered like a Quentin Tarantino movie. There was no screenplay, no happy ending and no tragedy to be experienced and then ignored.
The lives lost there will not rise again.
Each year, about 100,000 American lives are lost to gun violence. This does not account for the persistent impact on the survivors’ lives. Guns increase the likelihood of death in domestic violence and in instances where harm is intended and disproportionately affect communities of color.
The cost of gun violence is estimated at $229 billion per year.
Most shooting deaths occur quietly without media attention and the interest in mass shootings is short lived.
When will it stop? When will we decide that we’ve had enough? Will we each have to lose a son, daughter, sister, mother, friend, or lover before we comprehend and absorb the agony of loss?
Will we wait for the next congregation to be gunned down during prayer in South Carolina? Do the bloody bodies of the children of Sandy Hook need to be strewn before our eyes?
The music played on, a harpist momentarily soothing our thoughts.
We were in seats provided by Walter Beran, a businessman who, among other things, sat on the board of trustees for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.
Beran was known to quote Shelley as part of his life mission, believing that, “A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasure of his species must become his own.”
Astonishingly, he passed away in an LA hospital of natural causes that same evening.
Jerry and I left that concert inspired and ready for revolution.
We ask that you, in the memory of Jonathan M. Levin (age 31), Grace McDonnell (age 6), Gordon Cowden (age 51), Clementa Pinckney (age 41), Jillian Johnson (age 33) and so many others, join with us to condemn and put a stop to gun violence.
After the Trainwreck shooting, Judd Apatow said, “We, as a country, need to find a way to do better”.
To do better, we have to be better. To be better, we have to take action.
Jerry says, “We have an absolute obligation to protect ourselves and our loved ones from bullets?” and I agree.
We are forming a bi-partisan private sector commission to develop recommendations and to ensure that the sound of gunshots doesn’t fade with the headlines.
To the “Y” generation, we need your skill and motivation to capture attention, to use social media as a tool for motivation and change, to force recognition and be heard. Please come forward.
We applaud Amy for joining with her cousin, New York Senator, Charles Schumer to call for tighter gun control.
To Hollywood, we need your creativity and imagination to develop innovative solutions.
Judd Apatow, Amy Schumer, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Universal Pictures and Warner Brothers, we feel your pain and we are calling on you.
Disney, News Corp., Paramount, Sony, Time Warner, Viacom, we are calling on you. Jennifer Hudson, Michael Jordon, Nicki Minaj, Charlize Theron, Sofia Vergara, Venus and Serena Williams, we feel your pain and we’re calling on you.
To American corporations, we need your leadership, support and leverage to make a difference.
Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Hulu, Netflix, Twitter, we are calling on you.
With every bullet, time stands still. Let us now move forward together.