Sometimes we become numb to horror. We forget what words mean because we hear them so frequently. Yesterday, someone walked into a school filled with children and shot them. Yesterday, people died doing what I do every day, teaching kids. Yesterday, when the article came over my newsfeed about a school shooting, the most shocking part was my lack of shock. As I sat at my desk, in my classroom, in my hallway, just like other teachers who were being gunned down that day, I thought, “Oh that’s sad. Another one…” Most of my loved ones spend their day in schools--my husband, my children, my extended family, my best friends. Any one of them could have been in that school with that shooter. And I just went on with my day.
This morning, as our principal announced a staff meeting at 8:00, I wasn’t affected by the idea that we were going to discuss how to keep ourselves and our students safe from a gunman. I was more annoyed that I had to change my agenda for the curriculum meeting that was just canceled. Here we go again, I thought. Review the crisis plan and update the information. When these horrific events happen, we all say the same words, “unspeakable tragedy”, again and again. Yes, it is unspeakable. Because it happens so frequently that we don’t even bother to speak of it anymore. It happens so often that we just click past the images of one more every-day tragedy.
When did mass murder become commonplace? When did the photos of traumatized children and grief-stricken parents become familiar? When did lock-down drills and crisis plans become the “new normal” for school employees? Why on earth wasn’t I incensed by the idea that everyone I love could die just because they were doing their daily job. Why on earth wasn’t I enraged that my place of work became a battlefield?
I didn’t wake up until a friend spoke up during the meeting. When I heard her impassioned plea, “What are we (the administration, the school board, and the teachers) going to DO about this?” The quiver in her voice broke through my nonchalance and empowered my impotence. I do not know what to do. But I do know that something must be done. I cannot accept that there is nothing we can do to stop children dying in their places of learning.
I do not know the answer. I have heard suggestions: safer school buildings, more money for security to guard our greatest resource, our children, mental health screening and support for those who need it, programs to build kindness and empathy among our youth so no one feels the need for violence, sensible gun laws can be enforced effectively. I do not know the answer, but I cannot stop asking the question.
I am no longer numb. I am enraged and empowered. I do not want to speak of one more "unspeakable tragedy" of children murdered while they learn. I want to stop speaking of it and begin making change.
Please leave a comment with an idea of some action to take. I am listening...