It’s almost the end of the school year. And, here I am, as a parent, breathing a sigh of relief.... my kids will be safe.
Yes, I’m going there. Yes, I’m going to talk about what’s weighing heavy on my heart. School shootings are common (saying that makes me physically ill). And every day, every time my kids leave my car and walk into school, I hold back tears, I reign in my fear, I try to be brave. But, in my head, the alarms sound. I want to scream. There's not a single day where I forget to say "I love you" because, we as American parents know that it might be the last time we get to see our babies. How insane is that thought? They are going to school, not a battlefield. I want to accompany them everywhere; I’d be their shield, I’d die so they don’t.
What parent wouldn’t? It’s part of what we do. Protect our young, it’s a primal instinct. But, if that’s true, why are so many adults in situations of power doing nothing? They stand there arguing, without action, while children are murdered. Sure, they talk about doing things, even come up with a million and one reasons for what the issue is... too many exits, unarmed teachers, not enough kind words, too many students in classes, not enough supervision... etc. Shame on us, for not seeing past our own wants, for not seeing that what matters right now, is preventing children from being murdered. Why are we arguing WHAT to do, when we should be doing EVERYTHING reasonable to keep our kids safe. We do this in literally EVERY other aspect of their lives...except this. Shame on us for being so selfish.
As a human, I’m angry. As a parent, I’m livid. It is, without a doubt, morally wrong for us as a nation to stand by and allow this to continue. There is no other way to say it. Children are being slaughtered as they sit in school. We expect them to attend school, to be the best versions of themselves, just as we did so long ago. These kids deserve that right, and they deserve the right to learn without the threat or fear of dying while doing so. This is not hard. We are the adults, and these kids are dying under our watch. We owe them safety, we owe them action. And it must be done now.
What action needs to be done? In my opinion, it's BOTH mental health reform AND gun law reform. There's a reason why I put mental health first...I know, we all know, that as soon as you say "gun reform" people jump to "don't take my guns". I listed gun reform second, in hopes that those people will keep reading. For gun reform, no one is saying "take everyone's guns" just as, for mental health, no one is saying "drug everyone and take their brains". In this issue, we seem to be more interested in jumping to conclusions than finding a solution. As a country, we have lost the ability to come together in compromise; we no longer see the world as shades of grey, but rather, we see it as black and white. That is where the problems begin. Ask yourself, honestly, why didn't anything happen after Columbine? Why nothing after Sandy Hook, when the blood of first graders stained the floors? Why haven't those events, or any of the countless others, been the fuel in our fire? Why? We can't possibly be so stubborn that we will continue to allow children to die. I refuse to believe that we aren't better than that. I very strongly believe that no one side is correct, no one side of the issue will fix this. Our nation is better than this, our country is stronger than this. Insisting that it’s one way or the other, that it's only mental health or it‘s only gun reform is counter productive. It's BOTH. These kids are begging for us to save them - how dare we refuse change.
Allow me to be frank - we are speaking about keeping our children safe...why WOULDN'T we want to do everything possible so that they come home? We can close schools for an inch of snow to keep kids safe, but preventing them from being gunned down at school is somehow confusing, difficult and seemingly impossible? It honestly feels like, those that haven't lost a child in a mass shooting lack the empathy and foresight needed to see we are next. Let me also say this, an outdated constitutional "right" is NEVER more important than the right to live.
Let no one doubt, that there is something wrong with the youth that choose to murder. Evil walks this earth, but evil can't win. Very simply, evil cannot have access to guns. And, just maybe, we adults have failed in more ways than we realize. Maybe we've raised a generation of kids, especially white males, who seem to think that life should always be fair and rewarding to them. Maybe we haven't taught them what to do when they fail, or how to manage feelings, how to harness anger. Maybe, as they watch the mounting animosity between adults, it tells them the only way to be heard is through violence. Maybe, to them, recognition resides in the number of bodies on the floor. Could it be, that if we come together on this, if both sides of the argument agree to make meaningful and effective changes, will that stop the madness? Will leading by example be the way out?
To the parents of the children who we've let die in school shootings. I want to speak to you, from my heart. As a mother, I am deeply ashamed of the priorities that our nation seems to have adopted. Somehow, we've gone astray, we've placed our morality in the hands of money hungry individuals. Dollars over life. This fact haunts me. I cannot imagine your pain, the agony of breathing when half of you is gone. I want you to know, that my heart shatters into a million pieces for you. As a mom, I want you to know, that I care. I want you to know that your child's life mattered. Your child will not be forgotten. And, I want to express my anguish at even writing in the past tense about a child, past tense because the present tense no longer applies. I ask other parents to just imagine having to speak about your own child in the past tense. Honestly, it should break you.
We need to break this cycle. These kids are priority number one. No exceptions, no excuses.