As a mum, I kiss and hug Q every morning when I drop him off at school and I say a prayer to whomever might be listening that I will get to do the same thing again that afternoon. We live in a time when our children are having to practice lock-down drills at school, have to prepare for the “what if” of an active shooter in the school. Where our teachers have to keep the knowledge that they may lose their lives working in a school for Pete’s sake.
You expect that risk in a job like police, or firefighting, but not as a teacher. School is supposed to be a safe place for kids. A place to learn and grow, to gain confidence and knowledge to help them become fully functioning members of society. It is a place to figure out who you are, make friends and play games. It’s a place to run and sing and enjoy learning. It is not supposed to be a place of fear, of terror, or of death.
And yet that is exactly what it is becoming.
Our children are dying
Take a second to think about that and let it sink in. Our children are DYING in one of the very places where they are supposed to grow.
Yesterday morning, those kids packed their backpacks, threw their planners and lunches in their bags, and headed off to school. They weren’t hurting anyone, they were not in a war zone, they were in a normal middle-class school in America. Children, because yes I know they were/are teens, but they are still children, had to text their parents with “in case I don’t make it home” messages. Like soldiers do in a war zone. Imagine being so afraid for your life that you feel that you need to get a few last words out, to tell your parents that you loved them, that you tried your best to be a good kid.
Those memories are never going to go away. How do you recover from that? You don’t, that’s how. We are raising a whole generation of kids who are going to suffer from PTSD, from having to do things like this.
And what are the adults doing? They are sending “thoughts and prayers” and engaging in heated Facebook discussions about gun control and freedom. We are part of a culture that would rather give up access to personal freedoms, that is willing to sacrifice the safety and mental health of the next generation because we want to be able to keep our guns. For what? We are caught in a vicious circle of shootings and then debates, finger pointing and endless blabber with nothing ever actually being accomplished until the next time (and there always is a next time), and that circle is becoming smaller and smaller, with the time between shootings becoming shorter and shorter. And for what?
What is it all for?
Do we even realize what this ardent quest for freedom to bear arms and have as many guns as we want, hoarding and stockpiling because we are afraid that “they” might one day take them, is costing us? Has anyone stopped to think about the impact that this is having on our future? We owe it to our kids to let them feel safe in places of learning. We owe it to them to feel safe in malls and movie theatres, at concerts and recreation centers.
We owe it to them to allow them to feel and be safe
So this has got to end, but how? People are so set in their ways, it has become an “us vs them” issue, on that divides friends, families, and neighbors. But it shouldn’t. Because when it comes down to the heart of it, it is so, so much more than that. Freedom isn’t just for the few, for the privileged, for the adults. Freedom is for our kids, this generation of future adults to whom school shootings aren’t a shock anymore, but something to be prepared for. That hurts my heart.
So we need to put our stupid pride and stubbornness aside and figure this the heck out.
We owe it to them.
This post originally appeared on One Crazy Kid. It has been reprinted with permission.