When I heard the news yesterday about yet another school shooting, something shifted in me. My first thought: oh, how horrible. My second: those poor families. My third: this is not going to change.
As could be expected, today there are calls for stricter gun laws, increased mental health services, school security, and more. Just like there are every time. Just like after all those first graders were gunned down in their classrooms over five years ago. And if nothing changed then, when we saw their sweet faces and we heard the stories of their broken, unrecognizable bodies, and we felt the pain of their shell-shocked parents and community. If nothing happened then, well, why would be believe anything would happen now?
Today, you could see the politicians getting their messages together, and the media telling their stories, and the footage telling its own horrific story, and it’s all impactful, but does anyone believe this will change? Here, in this country where this kind of mass shooting is unprecedented, and the NRA funds candidates’ whole campaigns, and the culture is broken, and kids are lost and you see it and them every day, we are unwilling to address the big issues. We are unwilling to fix the problem.
Today, I walked through the middle school where my preschool students’ classrooms are located. The seventh graders were in the middle of switching classes, and I imagined what it would look like if something horrific happened here, in this congested hallway. Would they help each other? As their heavy stacks of books and papers flew, who would run and who would stay frozen to their locker? Which one of these kids’ bodies would I throw mine in front of, or would I have the courage to do that at all? What if a shooter made their way to my preschool classrooms? Some of those kids would think it was a game, at first.
It’s too much to think about, and so, we don’t, not for long. We hope and pray that this kind of violence never touches us or our schools or our families. We hug our kids tighter. But it doesn’t seem to change, does it? The hopes and prayers and plans and strategies that never seem to go anywhere, they are like throwing glitter on a tank that won’t stop moving.
We have become accustomed to mass school shootings as just part of what it is to live in this country. As you add up what we’ve lost: lives, families, security, peace, surely the loss of an expectation of safety in the place where our children are formed is just one more thing on the pile. Shame on us.