Yesterday, I wrote about being proud of my children.
No comma buts here.
I still love my children.
But as I was writing to them, writing about them, celebrating their accomplishments, a young man in Texas walked into his school. He laced the area with explosives and gunshots.
I spin words in which I speak of my pride in and love for my children.
A student hundreds, a thousand (?) miles away spins tragedy.
I am tired of this ritual. I am tired of this violence. I know that I am going to sound like everyone else when I try to understand and write about my frustration that a school is chosen as a death chamber.
I don’t mean to be cliche.
I sure as hell have no interest in sounding trendy or following on someone else’s bandwagon.
And it’s not that I prefer this violence to occur in any other location. I don’t want to give the suggestion of “Hey, don’t shoot up a school. The mall is more of the appropriate place.”
A war zone? A battlefield?
I accept the violence that happens there. I accept that we will have battles and will fight wars. I loathe the violence. But I know that when one person in power decides to do something that other people in power disagree with, war is going to be an unfortunate and likely byproduct.
Yes, I sound so mechanical here. But I have read and studied enough history to know the truth.
War can end despotism. War can end atrocities. War leads to atrocities. War can lead to despotism.
This is when I really hate irony.
I have friends on all sides of the political spectrum. I see the value of gun ownership. I also believe in certain limitations. My friends who are gun owners talk about the historic significance of the second amendment and I can see their points. I know that this is not about hunting. I know that this issue is far more complex than the simple colors and words I’m using to discuss gun control.
I do not want a despotic leader to think he or she can take over the country because the citizens are weaponless.
But…that leads to another point. Does this mean that we have people who don’t take over because of that fear of the citizenry? Or are we clinging to this concept due to the appeal to tradition….we’ve always had guns so we’ll always have guns?
I know gun owners who treasure their guns because, to them, they are works of art, much like how I see the Pieta by Michelangelo.
It doesn’t translate to me. I don’t see it. But then, I don’t see a lot of artwork as works of art because “I don’t get it.” Does this make me a bad person? I certainly hope not.
In the end, I am sitting in my chair, in my office, listening to a duet of Beethoven piano music and rain fall. I sit here and feel that same helplessness that I feel every time a school shooting happens. I fear for my life.
Yes. I will confess. I feel afraid even though I am confident I will never experience anything like this. But that is what everyone says after a school shooting.
I am afraid for my children. Which should be ridiculous. I am sending them to school. I should worry about them being bullied. I worry that my daughter is going to deal with sexually abusive actions because she is a girl and I have seen people being hideous to young women in spite of our “enlightened thinking.” Of course, I also know that I’ve taught my daughter how to deal with people in those moments and the fear eases a little.
I worry about my kids keeping up with homework. About their futures and paying for college.
I don’t want to worry about gun violence in my children’s school.
I don’t want to worry about the decision of whether or not I will stand in front of my students to take the bullets for them. I know the choice I will make. I hope I would be strong enough to follow through. I hope I will be strong enough to handle the pain if it should happen.
But that’s just it. I don’t want it to happen. I don’t want to have to think this way. I don’t want to have to think about the possibility of a school shooter. Damn it. I want to have to think about lesson plans and grading and reading more books to teach my students.
Not about my courage or the lack thereof.
I want to think about being proud of my children. I want to think about how my children and all of their peers around the globe can go to one place that won’t be treated like a barrel full of helpless fish.
I don’t know what to do anymore. I have been praying. I am praying. I will pray. I will continue to pray because I have faith.
But sometimes, when I’m done praying and I unfold my hands, all I see is the emptiness within my palms and a lifeline already half lived.
I want to end this with a word of hope.
I do have hope. I have hope in God. I have hope in the goodness of others. I have hope that I will enjoy my retirement and that I’ll continue to have a good relationship with my children.
I have hope that the rain will continue to fall and I will see the end of the storms. I have hope in so much more…..