This morning, I forgot to pack my kids’ lunches and realized it about 10 seconds before we left for school. I slapped peanut butter and jelly on bread like I was on an assembly line, threw it into backpacks, had the kids race into the car and buckle their seatbelts. I yelled a “Love you!” as they clambered out of the car and shut the door behind them, not sure if they heard me.
All over the country, parents had mornings like this.
But this morning in one town in Connecticut, parents dropped off their kids at elementary school and they will never see their 18 children alive again.
I’m writing at a point where facts are still being assembled. I’m sure in the days to come, we’ll find out the names of those involved, the victims, and the murderer. We’ll find out “why” the person did it in stomach-turning articles and TV profiles.
There is no “why” that will ever be adequate. There is no explanation that will suffice for robbing these children of their lives, for robbing these parents of their joy. And the fact that “school shooting” is even in the American lexicon is a disgusting blight on a wonderful country, and we should all be angry and ashamed.
I don’t want to “take my kids out of school and hug them,” like about 80% of my friends on Facebook. I don’t know about your kids, but my second and third graders would inevitably squirm in my arms and want to leave them.
And you know something? They–and EVERY OTHER KID IN THIS COUNTRY–should be able to leave the safe haven of their parents’ arms without fear. Every kid in this country should be able to go to an elementary school, or a movie theater showing a Batman movie, or a mall, without getting shot by someone who decides that their own life is so ruined that he decides he has to ruin and destroy others.
I don’t want to cry.
No. Instead, I want to show my children that we live in a country where people can do something to stop random violence. I want to show my children that they live in a country where they are not powerless victims, but instead are actors who can change the world for the better.
Today it became clear, yet again, that we live in a horribly broken world. I don’t want to just hug my children: I want to work with them to fix what is broken in this world, whether through lobbying for gun control or better mental health care or what have you.
I want to light the Hannukah candles tonight and pray for a miracle. The miracle I’m praying for doesn’t come from God. It comes from a vision of the world you want to live in, and it comes from the belief in yourself and your children that you can make that world.
The whole world is a very narrow–and today, perilous–bridge. The main thing is to not be afraid.