Going to school on Monday was such a weird experience for me. Of course, I never thought about not going, but as I walked through those doors on Monday, my mind was just filled with thoughts of "What if...". I'm not sure how it could be any other way. The entrance I always use is always unlocked. Monday, of course, it was locked tight-- as were all other doors.
I had sent an email out to staff, attaching helpful articles to send home to parents just in case they aren't capable of googling as well as me. (No, honestly, there is a lot of unhelpful junk out there, so it's nice to be able to know which sites have credible resources.) I also offered to visit with classrooms about Firday's incident with the teachers.
A few teachers took me up on this offer and sat quietly while I led a discussion with little ones about the "sad thing" that happened at a school in Connecticut. My verbage was very elementary (obviously) and honestly, I don't know that I could have handled much more than that. As soon as the topic was in the open, the kids eagerly shared what they knew. It was obvious they wanted to talk, were craving the chance to share the information they had with others. Some had questions and some had 'solutions'. Others had been shielded from much of the news.
Conversations like these are so difficult to have with kids and I found myself at a loss for words and on the verge of tears each time I visited the classrooms yesterday and today. The thought of anything happening to any of "my" kids in our school kept creeping into my mind as I gazed into all of their eyes. And god forbid, the thought of anything happening to my own kid just takes my breath away. I can't imagine what those teachers and staff members went through on Friday and I only hope that I would be as brave and courageous as they were. Honestly though, I feel as though my first instinct would be to lock myself in my office, hide under my desk, and stare at my little office collection of family photos.
While I have no idea what our future holds, I'm sure we haven't seen the last of these tragic events. And now, only days after such a gut-wrenching incident, political talk is fueled by such raw emotion, that makes both sides all the more adamant on their stance. Of course I have no solution and I'm strangely annoyed with the simplicity of some suggestions.
Mike Huckabee has boldly claimed that the outbreaks of violence happen because we have removed God from the public square. A religious scholar and facebook friend of mine eloquently wrote this: But I recall when God was in the public square (the way Huckabee prefers it, with prayer in school, Bible readings, and so forth). With "God in the public square" we engaged in racial slavery all the way to its grotesque end. We denied women equal rights, and we drove (if not hunt
ed down) Native Tribes and Mormons westward into reservations and/or isolation. With "God in the public square" we engaged in public executions, vilified gay and lesbian people, and denounced Catholic schools as centers of superstition--and castigated Catholicism itself as contrary to American democracy. With "God in the public square" we killed women we thought were "witches," and we criminalized interracial marriage. The list, of course, is much longer. Without question, then, we need to be very careful--especially we who still call ourselves 'people of faith'--to indict with such damning charges against secularism, when we who claim to be advocates of God have been among the worst of those who are cruel, prejudiced, and violent.
Several of my friends are making the simple yet obvious statement, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." True, but come on now, obviously that statement could be put into any possible sentence as inanimate objects typically don't threaten people without the help of a person. I'm so thankful that while M and I disagree on a vast majority of political platforms, we have a united front when it comes to the 2nd amendment. We will never understand why citizens need the right to own a high powered military assault weapon. (Does anyone else see the irony in that the same party that wants to deny women reproductive rights and marriage rights to same sex couples argues strongly for the right to own such weapons?) I personally, don't feel comfortable with guns in the house, but I understand that many believe it to be necessary for their safety (even though statistics show there are more accidental deaths from guns bought for protection than there are deaths from actually protecting a family from danger). I personally, don't like the act of hunting (well, actually, I love the walking around on a crisp fall morning, in the peaceful midwest weather--I just don't like the dead animal part) but I understand that many do-- and I'm married to a pheasant hunter-- which is fine because pheasants don't have brown eyes and I really couldn't handle mason shooting something with big doe brown eyes. But really, a hunting rifle and a military type assault rifle are considered one in the same?
I know I won't solve any political debates with my less than eloquent writing, but sometimes it just helps to clarify my own thoughts. As the mother of a toddler, with (hopefully) a long life ahead of him, I'm so concerned for this future. I want to do everything I can to ensure his health and safety but I realize that a huge portion of this is going to land out of my control. And when I think back to those possibilities, I'm again at a loss for words.