For the kids, teachers, and families at Parkland. For the kids, teachers, and parents everywhere. #neveragain.
Several years ago - 5 years ago, in fact, my daughter Rowen came home from 3rd grade to tell us that she'd had a lockdown drill in school that day. It shocked me, mostly because she hadn't ever talked about this before, and also because she was so matter-of-fact about it. That post is here:
I actually asked Rowen to read this post in the car on the way to school last Friday, when our talk of the massacre in Florida was getting grim. At 12 and 14, my kids are old enough to begin to appreciate reality of our world. The risk we all run as they get out of the car or off the bus.
It has always been strange to me, how many of my emotions occur in a sort of delayed reaction to dramatic situations. As my shock over YET ANOTHER massacre of innocent kids at a school has given way to the despairing hollowness of why, sweet mercy, why, I was whipped back into focus this morning as I watched a clip reading out the names of the victims. I realized that seven of them were 14 years old.
My kid is 14.
She's halfway through 8th grade, and will be entering high school this fall. And my planned blog post in honor of the kids in Parkland, and in special honor of the staff and teachers there, suddenly shifted into clarity. This isn't just "the kids" and their heroic teachers, and their shattered parents. This is me, but for the grace of God. Me.
I'm suddenly overwhelmed with two emotions.
One is anger. I recognize that one. But not the helpless kind of frustration I feel when I am moved by injustice and know that there is nothing I can do that will alleviate the situation.
For me, I regret that Sandy Hook wasn't the last time - the very last time ever - that kids got killed at a school. I am sad that their voices weren't big enough or angry enough or as good at organizing in social media as the teenaged voices are now. That perhaps we hadn't come to the tipping point just yet.
But I'm glad - so glad - that these kids who spend their lives connected are angry. That a hashtag can become a rallying cry can be come a movement that changes the world.
So my other emotion is hope. The kind of hope that grits its teeth and puts on its butt-kicking shoes and goes to war. That says hell or high water. Thy kingdom come.
Picking My Outrage Battle. Again.
Remember the post earlier this year about picking my outrage battle? Gun violence targeting children has just become one of mine.
I don't care enough about gun ownership to have a really open heart-to-heart with its advocates, especially about military-style weaponry. Not while there are children who still die as some kind of regrettable collateral damage, in our eagerness to protect what never should have been considered an inalienable right. Not while there is any chance that even one family or community can be spared. So I'm not a moderate voice. I'm a mama, scared and angry, who only escaped this horror because it was inflicted upon someone else.
There are some rights worth the fight. Worth dying for. Some freedoms for which millions of soldiers have given their lives. That balance of freedom and responsibility - of what amounts to herd immunity at the cost of the rights of the individual - is the dazzling beauty of the American way. It's what makes America unique, and that push and pull is what keeps democracy alive.
But there have been times, landmark times, when we've made decisions as a nation that have changed the course of life for millions of citizens at a single stroke, because it's simply the right thing to do. What, in fact, MUST be done, even at the cost of the personal freedoms of some. This is one of those times. Enough kids - enough victims - have died from the same style of gun, that outlawing it should not even take a moment of consideration.
For today, after my grand language, here's what I'm going to do.
1. I'm going to find out where the marches are, and we're going to attend. I've never been a marcher, so this is a big thing. It takes a lot to get me out from behind my computer. ;) Here's one: https://www.marchforourlives.com/
2. Today I'm writing a letter to each of my childs' teachers, and their principal, thanking them for the work they do every day in the service of - and if necessary, in the defense of - my own children. They deserve it.
If you're a parent or a grandparent, I invite you to write a letter to a teacher. I'd love to see the posts if you do. I'll post mine.
With much love, and much hope.