Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. Maya Angelou
I was out running last weekend–my usual route and as I rounded the corner for home, I noticed someone had posted a sign on their lawn, right at the edge, next to the sidewalk. They live on a street that sees many cars coming in and out of our community–a connecting street that leads us to the freeway. Men and women, moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas–drive that street so fast, as if they are racing to something so important, as if it doesn’t matter children are playing just feet away from their race cars. It’s a bright red sign with simple plea: Drive like your children live here.
Two weeks ago, my second and fourth grade daughters came home from school and told me that they’d had a “code red drill in case someone tries to kill us. We had to all hide in the bathroom together and be really quiet. It was really scary but the teacher said if there was a real man with a gun trying to find us, she’d cover us up and protect us from him. Tommy started crying. I tried to be brave.
My three-year-old nephew had the same drill at his preschool in Virginia. Three-year-old American babies and teachers—hiding in bathrooms, holding hands, preparing for death. ~Glennon Doyle, Momastary
Preparing for death. Seriously. My heart is aching with the thought that I send my children to school where they have to learn how to hide. And that even if they do hide, they may be found. And God forbid when something like this does happen, my heart aches for the teachers who wrap their arms around their students and whisper sweet nothings to make sure our babies hear that they are loved one last time.
A long time ago I was an elementary school teacher. I have no idea what I would have done if I was ever in a situation like Newtown. I know I would have been scared. And I know I would wanted to hold each and every one of my students in my arms so they were being touched by love and not hate. I also know every single teacher I have ever worked with would have done everything in their power to protect their students. When I was a student we had earthquake drills that used to scare me. When my husband was a child he had tornado drills. And now? In 2015, our kids have drills to hide from the bad guys who want to hurt them. Our solution is to teach them to hide. But why aren’t we doing more? Doing better?
Why, when we learn that the unspeakable happened, innocent lives taken by a coward, why do we dig in our heels and hold our guns tight? Why is our first response–to hold tight to something cold–a thing without a heartbeat?
Mine. Don’t take away mine.
Why when the unspeakable happens, why do we dig in our heels and yell: Take all the guns away! Which does nothing to open up the possibility of working together. Why is our first response to make it Us VS. Them?
We know better. We know these reactions aren’t working. We can do better.
Why don’t we reach out to the families, the communities, the children and young adults who went through it first hand–why don’t we reach out to hold on to them. And their living, breathing souls?
Why do we hold our guns ever so tightly?
Why do we dig in so deep that we choose protecting a thing over protecting a soul?
Why don’t we be still and listen. Why don’t we hold the heartache. Hold the grief. Why do we dig in, so intent to hold on to our things at the expense of showing our greatest sympathy for the children and their families. Because when your first reaction is: I’m so sorry, but don’t take my gun away, the but speaks louder than anything.
Let’s grieve with our neighbors–mothers, fathers, sister and brothers, aunts and uncles, friends–human beings struck by the worst sort of tragedy–the loss of innocent lives.
I think when tragedy like Oregon happens, our first response shouldn’t be to dig in deep. What if we relaxed our holds on our gun convictions–whatever they are– What if we paused. Breathed. Listened. And responded as if it happened to our children. Our loved ones. If we relax our hold on our guns and respond as if it happened to our children–we wouldn’t hold on to our guns and convictions so tightly.
And maybe, we would work together to fix this problem that is taking and continues to take.
What if when we did speak, we used words as if it happened to our children. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people–I have a feeling not one person would say this to the face of a mother who lost her child in a senseless mass shooting: It’s almost laughable. Try to imagine one human being saying that to another–to someone who lost their ‘people’.
Drive through life like your children live here. I think if we did that, we’d be listening more. Grieving more. Feeling more. Loving more. Holding on tightly to the right things–our people. And maybe working together to do better for our children.
While writing this, I kept going back to Glennon’s Facebook post and seeing so many things that as a mother, I say, yes. Yes, we must do better.
Never Give Up,