Today my son and his fifth grade class went on a field trip to historic Plymouth, Massachusetts, where the Mayflower Pilgrims landed in 1620 and site of what would later become the birthplace of New England. I carefully packed his lunch bag to ensure he had plenty of food to eat and share, gave him cash to spend at the gift shop, hugged and kissed him, and sent him off with my husband, who brought him to school to catch a 6:45am bus.
After they left, I prayed.
I prayed to God for the bus driver to get him and his classmates to and from Plymouth safely. I prayed that they would be safe while they were there. I prayed because as an American parent, I can no longer take my child’s safety at school, or anywhere, for granted. There are people out there with guns, many obtained legally, who want to hunt down and kill our children.
My son and I rarely go to the movies anymore. When we do, we sit in the way back, against the wall, so I have a clear view of the theater. I calculate what I might do if a shooter were to come in and start spraying bullets. Throw my son on the floor, under a seat, and then lay on top of him. Alternatively, throw him down, tell him to stay down and hide while I charge the shooter so he kills me instead of my son.
In church, we usually sit toward the back. If a shooter were to enter, I would tell my son to get under the pew and crawl his way to the end of the row, stay low while he heads to the exit, then run like hell away from the church. If this were not an option, I would throw myself on top of him and shield him with my body.
I do not share these thoughts with my son.
We send our most precious, priceless gifts from God – our children – to school and sometimes they do not come home. This is not a fluke or an anomaly anymore; this is a regular occurrence in American society. No child is safe, not yours and not mine, and our government does nothing about it.
Arm teachers. Have fewer entrances. Be kind to each other. These are the innovative solutions our government throws at us each time we experience another violent loss of innocent life. They expect us to predict which one of the “weird” kids will become a mass murderer before he kills. They blame the victims when he, in most cases with legal access to semi-automatic weapons, massacres them while they learn .
Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” This is perhaps one of the strongest arguments for term limits for our elected representatives. Too many of them have been in office during these massacres and still are unwilling to compromise or take action to implement policies and laws to help prevent this bloodshed from happening in our schools.
Something is fundamentally wrong with a country that values the right of a private citizen to own an inanimate object capable of mass murder over the rights of living, breathing human beings to live their lives in safety and peace.
Children are dying. Do not think it cannot happen to yours.
We will all die. If we are fortunate, it will be at a ripe old age, after a life well-lived. As you lie on your deathbed, which do you want by your side, your gun or your child?
“In the end, both sides wanted what the Pilgrims had been looking for in 1620: a place unfettered by obligations to others. But from the moment Massasoit decided to become the Pilgrims’ ally, New England belonged to no single group. For peace and for survival, others must be accommodated. The moment any of them gave up on the difficult work of living with their neighbors—and all of the compromise, frustration, and delay that inevitably entailed—they risked losing everything. It was a lesson that Bradford and Massasoit had learned over the course of more than three long decades. That it could be so quickly forgotten by their children remains a lesson for us today.” ~ Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War