Shalom


Peace.

Peace be upon you and upon all you love.

Salaam.

Peace.

I don’t know what to write today, so I’m going to simply wish you peace. Soft words, soft landings, safe spaces.

Peace in your hearts. Peace in your angry, saddened souls.

Peace to all of us who mourn for more lost lives, more unspeakable gun violence.  Peace to all who fear for the future of our country.

Wishing peace and calm to all who ask themselves “How could we have come to this place? How could we be letting these things happen?” Peace to all of us who have begun to fear each other. And peace to those who are feared.

Shalom to all who have already been through this kind of awful, ugly, ignorant, hateful terror and lived to tell us your stories. Salaam to those who have already gotten away from this kind of hatred and violence and have come to us as a safe haven.

Peace.

Peace.

Peace.

Tomorrow, smile at someone who wears different clothing than you do. Say hello to someone who has skin of a different tone than yours. Give a helping hand to someone who is speaking a language you can’t understand.

Peace.

Shalom.

Salaam.

We need it so much right now.

peace-1325161_640

Being the Change


IMG_20180324_095037

I’m heading out in a few minutes. Going into Boston to join the revolution.

The March for Our Lives has left me soaked in tears. I feel hopeful, uplifted, empowered, renewed. When I see the clear eyed courage of our young leaders, I feel strong enough to get myself out there and march.

But every time I close my eyes, I see the faces of those little one from Newtown. I see the images from Columbine. I see the images of the teachers who died trying to save them.

I am thrown back to the day of the Sandy Hook shooting, standing in the window of my fifth grade classroom, watching my students run and play at recess. I was terrified. I wanted to bring them back in, I wanted them with me. I wanted them where I could touch each of them, and hold them safely beside me.

I once again feel the hopelessness of that day. I remember moving the furniture in my classroom, after the children had gone home. Maybe if I put this book case near the door, I could push it over if someone burst in with a gun. Maybe I could hit him with my broom.

I remember being told to keep cans of beans in my classroom. Being told that I should be ready to throw beans at an invading assassin. I remember the rage I felt when those whose lives are protected by the armed Secret Service simply shrugged off my fear.

Last night I dreamed of the kids who were in my care on the day of the Sandy Hook massacre. I dreamed that they were being swept away in a crowd, and I couldn’t keep track of them. I dreamed of trying to scream their names, but having no voice.

Last night I dreamed of trying to save my students with a can of beans.

This morning I am drying my tears, putting on warm clothes, and getting my aging self out there. My heart still hurts. I’m still afraid.

But today I don’t feel hopeless.

Today I feel enraged. Today I plan to channel the anger and the power of those Parkland kids and all the young activists around this country. I plan to scream until I’m hoarse.

We will be the change we want to see in the world. We will.

Thank God for children, whose energy and spirit and determination can bring the rest of us along the right path.

How Do You Sleep At Night?


download

Dear NRA leaders, lobbyists and supporters,

No. I do not want to see guns brought into our schools. I do not want my former colleagues to be armed on the playground.

No. I do not want soldiers, swat teams or retired service people stationed around my local school. I do not want my daughter to have an armed guard outside of her classroom door.

Want to know why?

1. Kids are unpredictable

Sometimes the people who are killed by the guns are killed by accident. You know, the 7 year old with ADHD who pulled the fire alarm at my school could just as easily have grabbed a gun out of a pocket, a drawer or a holster.

If you think it makes sense to bring more deadly weapons into our classrooms, I have one question for you.

How do you sleep at night?

2. Humans are fragile

I have had students with severe emotional disabilities. Wonderful, smart, beautiful children who have struggled with anxiety, depression, PTSD, even psychosis and schizophrenia.

I have had colleagues who have struggled with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar disorder.

Sometimes humans, even the little ones, become overwhelmed and think that suicide is the right answer. Sometimes they act out. Sometimes they even succeed.

If you believe that adding loaded guns into this type of setting is a good idea, I have one question for you.

How do you sleep at night?

3. Schools are big places

There are a whole bunch of you out there trying to convince us that armed guards outside of our schools would keep us safer. But how many guards are you planning to add? Do you want to put one outside the front door? My classroom was just inside of a side door.

So what if we put a guard outside of every side door? Do we need one at the loading dock, too? How about the gym? The kitchen has an access door, too.

Snipers on the roof, maybe?

Couldn’t a bad guy with one of those awful guns shoot out our windows? Do you we want guards all along the streets that surround the school?

Would you want to put an armed guard outside of every classroom? Every three classrooms?

What do we do about recess?

If you think placing armed guards in schools can help protect us, I have just one question for you.

How do you sleep at night?

4. Should guns be visible or concealed?

This one is tricky, right?

Let’s start with the idea of arming teachers. Let me imagine myself in my fifth grade classroom. If my gun is loaded and on my body, I’d theoretically be ready to shoot the bad guy, right?

But if I want to get my gun and shoot before I”m killed it would have to be readily available. I guess it would be in a holster on my chubby hip. As a middle aged woman kneeling down to work with the kids, I often banged my hip on a desk or chair. Sometimes I dropped my pen, my notebook or my text book as I moved from desk to desk.

Sometimes I had to climb up on chairs or counters to set up the classroom or get materials ready.

Imagine all that with a loaded gun.

Bad plan.

So if its a bad idea to have a gun right on my hip, what about if it is kept in a drawer in my desk?

My unlocked desk, where I rarely sat because I was busy teaching. I guess at the sound of gunshots from outside my classroom I would shut off the lights, lock the door, gather the kids in our safe spot and grab my gun out of my desk. Unless I had put the gun in a place where a kid couldn’t grab it either accidentally or on purpose.

In which case I’d have to dig around for a bit while the AR-15 was shooting outside my door.

Great idea, you say?

How do you sleep at night?

5. Schools are NOT prisons

Teachers are not first responders. Children are not inmates.

Schools, when they work well, are centers of community life. They are places of thought, of friendship, of social engagement.

In healthy schools, teachers and children feel safe and respected. They share a sense of community and belonging.

It seems obvious to this former teacher that spending all day in the presence of armed guards would make it impossible to feel anything but trapped and under siege.

So.

If you honestly believe that the best we can do to protect our children is to keep them under armed guard, rather than taking away the danger that faces them, I would ask you this one simple question.

How the hell do you sleep at night?

 

 

My Terrible Truth


I try to write carefully on this blog. I try to be thoughtful, to be careful of what I say and how I say it.

I try not to be awful.

But I have learned a terrible, terrible truth today, and this post will focus on that fact. I am afraid that my words will not be chosen carefully today, because they are being lit by the fuse of this terrible truth.

I discovered today that if the circumstances were right, I could kill another human being.

I do not say this lightly. I have often wondered if I would be able to kill an animal if I had to do it in order to feed my family. I’ve never been sure.

I know that I could kill a fish, having done that more than once. I have no qualms about killing and eating a fresh, sweet clam.

If the dark days ever came and my grandkids were truly hungry, I think I could force myself to kill a duck or a turkey. But I doubt that I could ever, ever kill a deer. I can’t stand the thought of killing something so beautiful and so alive.

I see myself as a coward when it comes to taking life. I eat meat, and I don’t condemn those who hunt for food. Still, I have never believed that I myself could actually make the kill.

Until today, I was sure that nothing in the world could ever make me take the life of another human being.  I’ve never served in the military. I’ve never been in law enforcement.

I’m a gentle, tender hearted, nurturing mother figure. I have been a teacher, a speech therapist for disabled children, a mother, a nonni. I rock babies. I cook nutritious soups. I capture spiders and put them back outside.

I hate violence of any kind. I won’t watch violent shows or movies. Other than mosquitoes, I don’t kill anything.

So today, as I sat rocking my 8 month old grandson in my arms, watching the winter afternoon drift by, I thought of myself as a giver of life. A giver of life and tenderness and understanding.

As I sat breathing in the sweet baby smell of my little Johnny’s hair, I didn’t expect the terrible truth to assault me the way that it did.

But the news was on.

And I saw yet another public school surrounded by swat teams, and armored vehicles and men in combat gear. I saw even more children running out of their classrooms with their arms in the air.

Another school shooting. The 18th in the past 6 weeks? The 19th? We are nearly at one a day!

“Again?!” I gasped out loud. “Again??!!!”

I held Johnny tighter. I thought about his mother, my daughter, my child. She is a teacher. She trusts me to keep her babies safe while she nurtures and cares for other people’s children. I am so incredibly afraid for her!

I thought of my former colleagues, at the school where I taught for two decades. I am afraid for them.

I am afraid for every child in this country who kisses their momma goodbye and gets on that big yellow bus.

And as I rocked my baby boy and cried into the softness of his silky hair, I was hit, hard, by the realization that I would happily, joyfully, gleefully blow the fucking heads off of those who have allowed this country to become a place where public schools are shot up every single week.

I tried to stop that thought. It goes against every instinct that I have to harbor such violent wishes.

But you know what?

Just once, just this once, I wish that I could use the complete lack of gun control to satisfy my own desire to protect our teachers and our children.

If I had the guts…..no, let’s be honest….if I had the opportunity… to be in the presence of Wayne LaPierre (head of the NRA), any NRA lobbyist, or any of the members of Congress who have taken money from the gun whores of the NRA…..

I would happily take my legally obtained AR-15 and cheerily insert it directly into the open mouth of any one of them. I would pull the trigger with a sense of relief and pleasure. I would step over the ugly mess that their brains and skull bones made as they were spattered on the nearby wall.

Then I’d offer their families my thoughts and prayers and deepest condolences.

9a150b743027258627c044efd5296340

The face of a killer…in the right circumstances.

They Believed Us


They were only babies. Still missing teeth. Still sleeping with fluffy toys.

They were little ones. They trusted the grown ups, as little ones do.

They woke up on that cold morning, just like every other morning in their short lives. “Eat your breakfast,” the grownups said. “It will keep you healthy and strong.” They believed the grownups, so they ate.

“Put on this nice warm sweater,” the grownups said. “It will protect you from the cold.” They put on their sweaters, trusting that the grownups were right.

That was how their lives had always been. “You need this shot, honey. It will protect you so you won’t get sick.” They got the shots, accepting their Mommys’ hugs and trusting that now they’d be safe. They climbed into their carseats. They buckled on their bike helmets.

The grownups promised to keep them safe. The little ones trusted.

They were only babies. They held Daddy’s hand as they walked to the bus stop that morning. They looked both ways before they crossed.

They listened to their teacher. When she told them to wash their hands carefully, and to scrub between their fingers, they did. “It will protect you from germs,” the grownup told them. They believed, and they did what they were told.

That cold morning, like every other morning, they gathered on the rug for morning meeting. They giggled with their friends. They wiggled and squirmed. They sang the Good Morning song.

“Be kind and be careful,” their teacher told them as they played. “This is a safe space for everyone.” They tried to be kind. They tried to be careful. They believed that they were in a safe space for everyone.

When the loud noises suddenly burst out that morning, they were confused. When the screaming started, they looked to their teacher.

She told them to gather together and stay quiet. Their eyes never left her as she ran to lock the door and turn out the lights.

She was a grownup. She would keep them safe. They trusted the grownups to protect them and keep them safe.

They trusted the adults.

But the door burst open, and hell came in the door. The grownup couldn’t keep them safe after all.

They were only babies. But they died in terror and blood and tears.

They were BABIES.

Police_at_Sandy_Hook

Everyone of us failed these babies. Twenty little children died because we’ve allowed the NRA to buy our representatives.

Click right here to see the faces and names of the little ones who were murdered in their classroom.

Click right here to see how your Congresspeople are rated by the NRA.

 

Don’tch Wonder Who’s Concealing and Carrying?


emoji-2744064_960_720

Not long ago, I went to my local grocery store on a busy Saturday morning. There was a man there who was blocking the aisle. He looked angry. He looked scary. He was dressed in scruffy clothes, had scraggly gray hair and a day’s worth of stubble on his scowling face.

I stood there awkwardly for a minute, but I wanted to get buy him and be on my way. I told myself not to be so judgmental. I cleared my throat and said, “Excuse me….?”

He looked up and smiled, revealing beautiful blue eyes and a disarming dimple. We had a short, friendly chat about the virtues of low fat ice cream, and I finished my shopping feeling great about the interaction.

But ya know what?

If that same thing had happened after the passage of the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act,” that whole thing would have gone far differently. You know the bill I’m talking about, right?

The latest bit of NRA inspired insanity would allow anybody who can legally carry a concealed weapon in their home state can carry one in mine.

Which, of course, means that when strolling through my local store, I will have no idea if my fellow shoppers are armed.

So in the best case scenario on that recent shopping trip, I would have turned around and gone the other way. I wouldn’t have dared to talk to that scary looking old guy.

In the worst case scenario? I might have been carrying a concealed weapon myself. A loaded one. I might have felt threatened enough by his big bulky self blocking my way. I might have reacted with a jolt of fear, especially if the guy had his hand hear his pocket.

I might have feared for my life and I might have shot his face off.

Call me naiive, but I would very much like to continue meeting new people as I go through my days. I’d like to take my grandkids to the mall without worrying that the young guy with the shaking hands isn’t about to pull out his gun and start shooting us up.

#GunControlNow

Yes, Dammit, It IS a Gun Problem


I am speechless. I have no idea what to say, or how to respond.

Yesterday I was taking a quick check of Twitter when I read the breaking news about the latest mass shooting. More school children cowering as bullets fly overhead. More innocent victims cut down as they go through their daily lives.

I commented on Twitter, because I can’t stand it anymore.

Now, you have to know that I hardly ever tweet. Sometimes I respond, and I often retweet what others have said. But this time my anger, my sorrow, my rage made me send out my message.

Because, come ON! Of course it’s a damn gun problem!!!

All of the usual arguments against gun control are just so stupid. They simply make no sense.

I won’t even go into them all. I can’t.

I just can’t.

My heart hurts. My head hurts. My logical brain? It doesn’t hurt anymore because it melted.

Oh, the responses I got.

Holy hell.

What the absolute fluff is wrong with these people?

Let me be clear (to quote every politician in the past 50 years). The people who responded to me were articulate, smart, well informed and respectful. There was no name calling and no profanity. On their part or on mine.

But do you know what they believe??! Are you ready for this?

These American citizens, living in what most people would consider to be a relatively civilized country, these people scolded me for my belief that I am in danger because so many people around me are carrying concealed weapons.

These are a few of their responses to my insistence that the problem is a gun problem.

And also

Uh, huh. So….the answer isn’t to limit the number of deadly weapons. The answer is to arm the schools. And churches. And movie theaters. And malls.

What the hell?

Then there was this:

This is just about the saddest, most distressing image of the United States that I have ever seen. These people honestly believe that the police have no duty to protect us. They truly believe that their only defense from people with guns is to carry guns.

They are unable to grasp the fact that in EVERY OTHER developed country on earth, this is untrue. They believe that every young mother who takes her babies out to the park should be packin’ heat. Every teacher should be armed. Every grandmother like me should have a gun in my purse before I take the kids into the grocery store.

This is, of course, insane.

But the fact that these intelligent people believe it is just about the most depressing thing I’ve seen in years.

It is also just about the least patriotic thing I’ve seen in years. They distrust the government, the police, the fire department, the laws of the nation. They distrust and dislike the United States.

And they honestly believe that we living in the age of the OK Corral.

Isn’t that just awful?

I still think its a gun problem.

Conservape-tan-NRA

 

THESE are the terrorists


I am enraged. I am fuming. I am disgusted, upset, angry, irate, weeping, frustrated, demoralized and fired up.

The National Rifle Association, those money grubbing gangsters, have put out an ad on Facebook and YouTube that is so appalling I can’t believe that it isn’t the top story on the news.

The ad calls for violent action on the part of gun owners toward an unnamed “Them.”

It is urging NRA members to use guns against “them.”

“They” are people who opposed Donald Trump.

“They” include Barack Obama.

“They” are me, and my sons, and my friends who attended the ENTIRELY PEACEFUL woman’s march. “They” are all who have used the word “resist.”

The ad is a blatant call to arms. It is fanning the flames of division in this country. It is full of lies, full of hate, full of anger.

Just listen to the voice of the woman who narrates. She couldn’t be more bitter, dismissive, hateful or vicious.

Uzi_of_the_israeli_armed_forces

How is this legal? How is this not considered to be hate speech?

How is that our national news tonight is full of Donald Trump’s latest nasty boy tweet toward a media person (Ho fucking hum) instead of looking at THIS.

I don’t even know what to do with the fear and rage that this piece brings out in me.

I hate the NRA. I hate them. I hold them personally responsible for ALL of the young people in this country who despair and kill themselves with guns. I hold them responsible for every baby and child who is killed because a gullible parent bought into the lie that owning a gun would keep the family safe.

I hate them.

If I had to list who I fear the most, Islamic terrorists would rate way below NRA leadership.  They’d fall below my anxious neighbors who decide to carry guns into Walmart.

Please watch the ad. Please share it with thoughtful people. Please contact your representatives and your local media and tell them to label this what it is: a criminal act of hate.

 

Why Do They Call This “Political”?


I spent today, like so many others, listening and watching as the news outlets covered the shooting in Virginia. Congressmen were shot, so the coverage was intense and constant.

I have to write down some what I’m feeling. Otherwise, you know, I’d probably explode in a shower of tear soaked sparks.

It was terrible. It’s a terrible, horrible, awful thing for innocent people to become targets for angry, sick, armed lunatics. When I heard the news breaking this morning I cried. I held my hand over my mouth. I shook my head.

It’s so awful. It should NOT be happening.

Now its a few hours later. I’ve been listening to the men who went through the ordeal.

These middle aged men, some of them military veterans, were on TV, fighting tears. They were talking about how surreal it was. How much they feared for each other, and for themselves. How they thought about their families, wanting to see them again.

These men, one after the other, are shaken, upset, angry and filled with the natural need to process all of this.

My heart goes out to them.

But.

This happens every day.

Every. Day.

Multiple times every day, someone in this country is faced with the surreal situation of being in the presence of an angry shooter.

I think about the children living in America’s cities who have been in their very own bedrooms when shots go off right outside their windows. I think about how horrified those little ones must be, every single damn day.

I wonder if those Congressmen are thinking about these kids?

This morning I heard one of the shaken Congressman saying that he felt like he was a “sitting duck” in the first base dugout. His voice was trembling, he was taking deep breaths as he told his story. I heard the sympathetic voice of the reporter, clearly feeling empathy for the Representative.

That’s when I really stared to cry. To sob, with the back of my hand against my lips. “Sitting ducks”, just waiting to be shot and waiting to die. My mind filled with the image of trembling, terrified victims, suddenly faced with a madman and his gun. Knowing that they were about to die.

But I didn’t see middle aged Congressmen. I didn’t.

I saw first graders. I saw kindergarten students. I saw babies, huddling in terror on the floor of their classroom, crying to their terrified young teacher. Asking her to save them.

I saw my students, looking to me for an explanation after Newtown.

I thought about all the guns, the tens of millions of guns that have flooded this country. I thought about all the times a gun has been used to massacre the innocent.

And I thought about those security officers. How they have to go to work every day knowing that there could be a shooter on any corner. In any building, at any event, on any day. They are surrounded by guns. I thought about how they must feel going to work. How their parents and their spouses and their children must feel.

So I am once again thinking, and praying, and hoping that at last we might see our lawmakers address the need to control our guns.

But if I bring it up, or if anyone does, we are told “this is not the time to politicize” this tragedy.

So here’s my question.

What’s political about wanting to be safe in my own neighborhood?

How is it partisan to think people should be safe at baseball practice? Or to want my grandchildren safe at the park?

See, I don’t think that controlling how many guns are out there is political. I don’t think passing laws about what kinds of weapons can be carried around our cities is partisan.

I think its time to question our obsession with outshooting the bad guys.

It’s not political. It’s logical.

 

Lies Told By Lying Liars


Sometimes I have to step away from the news. Even the news I write over on Liberal America.

Sometimes things happen that make me so mad I scare myself.

Today was one of those days. I watched news coverage and read a whole lot of online news. I was nauseated by all the reporting on the Orange Menace. The Cowardly Liar. The Dump.

He Who Shall Not Be Named.

I was disgusted, but I didn’t explode.

Not until I started to write about a new ad that the damned, accursed, loathsome NRA has taken out to run in key swing states.

It is an ad that is calculated to create unreasonable fear in citizens so that they will behave in a particular way.

It’s terrorism. It’s all lies. I was shaking and in tears by the time I finished it.

It’s a damn good thing I’m a pacifist……

Please read this. Please share it with your friends who live in those key swing states.

“NRA’s Dramatic New Ad Targets Women”Uzi_of_the_israeli_armed_forces