Sunday, December 16, 2012

I Can't Accept This.

I can’t accept this. I can’t accept that this is the world we live in. I know bad things happen. And good people die every day, and children are abused and treated poorly. I know these things. I know the world can be a very dangerous place. But I can’t accept that we now live in a world where we can’t protect 20 kindergarteners*…12 girls and 8 boys…from being murdered. I can’t accept that 4 teachers, a principal, and a school psychologist died protecting children from a gunman. I can’t accept that a mother was murdered and then her son went on a killing spree attacking children. I can’t accept this. And I don’t want to. I don’t want to normalize this. I don’t want to move on, forget, and wait until the next time. There can’t be a next time. My heart is forever broken. I was 22 years old when the Columbine school shooting happened. I was turning 24 years old in 3 days when 9/11 happened. I am 35 years old now, and I never thought I would live to experience the day when 20 children and 7 adults were gunned down…kindergarten children. I taught kindergarten. It was one of the most rewarding years of my life. It was challenging and some days I struggled but deep down I loved being a teacher. I always said kindergarten was a rough year. They were too big to be held like small babies but yet they had not matured enough to be first graders. They were so special, sweet and innocent, helpful and determined. Even the ones who gave me daily headaches could warm my heart with a smile. They were my babies and for that one year I was fortunate to be a part of their lives. Maybe that’s why I’m having a hard time dealing with this tragedy. The fact that the victims were kindergartners* hits too close to home. How do we accept this? How do we move on? Why would we want to? How does life go back to being normal when the lives of 20 families have been shattered? And what do we do to ensure that this never happens again? BECAUSE IT CAN’T HAPPEN AGAIN! We can’t live in a world where this is the norm…where we lower the flags and go back to business as usual. Where we pay lip service to gun control and mental health support until the next tragedy occurs. We can’t let this happen again. I do not accept that this is the world we live in. I know we need to talk about gun control or what I prefer to call gun responsibility. Because it is about responsibility, not control. But I don’t want to. I don’t want to attack the NRA or demand that teachers go to school armed. I want to mourn for the victims and find a way to prevent this from ever happening again. Some say we can’t, that there is nothing we can do, but I can’t accept that. We can’t live in a world where kindergartners and their teachers are no longer safe. If we can put a man on the moon why can’t we protect our children? Don’t tell me we can’t do it. We can. We choose not to. And I can’t accept that any longer. It’s not easy talking about guns. Like abortion, it is an issue that divides us. Unlike abortion, it is not a private medical procedure that should be between a woman and her doctor. Guns affect all of us. We use guns to protect us and to harm others. And sometimes we are harmed and killed when people use guns against us. Our founding fathers wrote the right to bear arms as the second amendment to the Constitution. And although they could have never imagined what our world would be like now, they knew that fundamentally we have the right to protect ourselves from our government and fellow Americans who would want to harm us. But now things are different. And guns are big business. And it’s easier for some kids to get a gun than a job. And people who are mentally unstable can obtain guns quicker than they can receive treatment for their mental problems. And on Friday December 14, 2012, a gunman killed his mother, 20 kindergarten* children, four teachers, a principal, and a school psychologist. That is where we are today and something must be done. So if we are going to talk about guns I suggest we enforce two rules to frame the discussion: 1. We CANNOT ban all guns. 2. We HAVE TO do something to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again. I was once asked by a marine who was pro-gun if I would prefer a world where no one had guns or everyone had a gun and I of course said no one. In an ideal world we would not need guns and no one, not even police would have them. But I’m a realist and I know this is not a possibility. We can’t ban all guns, the same way we can’t deport 5 million undocumented workers. And when we try and have a meaningful conversation about gun responsibility we cannot begin with a fallacy. We cannot ever ban all guns. It is not possible. So if that is your only solution then you can’t join in this discussion. On the flip side, WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING. Anti-gun people might want to ban all guns, but pro-gun people want to do nothing. They don’t want to blame a gun for the deaths of those children and their teachers. They blame the shooter and we all should blame him. But he used a gun. He did not use a knife, like the guy in China, and none of his victims survived because he used a gun, not a knife. Guns kill people, when people use them to kill. They have no other purpose but to kill. It’s not OK to only blame the individual and ignore our culture that is obsessed with guns. WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING. If you think that now is not the time to do anything or that nothing can be cone then you can’t join in this discussion. These are my rules that should be implemented if we are going to have a meaningful conversation about guns. I hope we will have this discussion because now is the time. I hope we will listen to each other, and remember the victims from Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Columbine, and all the other victims of schools/mass shootings. We owe it to them to do something now. And in the end I pray that somehow things change. We find a way to love each other and protect our babies from all the evil in the world. We find a way to help each other and support each other when in need. I can’t take part in this meaningful conversation right now. My heart is broken and I am beyond wrecked with grief over this tragedy. All I can do is mourn and pray for God to comfort the families of the victims and to comfort all of us now as we grieve for those precious babies who were taken from us. But now is the time to talk and to do something. Because this can’t happen again...we can’t let it. Rest in Peace: Charlotte Bacon, 6 Daniel Barden, 7 Olivia Engel, 6 Josephine Gay, 7 Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6 Dylan Hockley, 6 Madeleine F. Hsu, 6 Catherine V. Hubbard, 6 Chase Kowalski, 7 Jesse Lewis, 6 James Mattioli, 6 Grace McDonnell, 7 Emilie Parker, 6 Jack Pinto, 6 Noah Pozner, 6 Caroline Previdi, 6 Jessica Rekos, 6 Aveille Richman, 6 Benjamin Wheeler, 6 Allison N Wyatt, 6 Rachel Davino, 29, Teacher Dawn Hochsprung, 47, School Principal Nancy Lanza, 52, Mother of gunman Anne Marie Murphy, 52, Teacher Lauren Rousseau, 30, Teacher Mary Sherlach, 56, School Psychologist Victoria Soto, 27, Teacher *Update: I have learned that all of the victims were first graders not kindergarten. It doesn't change anything. Any grade is to young, even high school.

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