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.

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How Do You Sleep At Night?


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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.

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The face of a killer…in the right circumstances.