Less than a week ago the nation was in shock to watch the children being led from a school massacre. Many are still processing the feelings and dealing with the aftermath. I want to say that first and foremost, I offer my deepest sympathy and prayers for those in that town.
I have a few random thoughts to put on paper about this and it comes from 25 years of teaching mingled with the fear of sending your own child to school.
- “Adam Lanza was autistic.” I first want to say that I have never seen anyone on the autism spectrum who would do anything like this. It is possible, anything is. Where such horrific anger and pain came from, we may never know. I can’t imagine autism playing into it. As I’ve read several places, the divorce of his parents is more likely a factor.
- “Teachers should be allowed to carry guns to school.” I am a handgun owner but would never want myself or any other teachers to have guns at school. I won’t go into all the reasons why, but I can promise you that it won’t help. Kids and guns just don’t mix. Period.
- “We’ve taken God out of the schools and now we are being punished.” We pray in our schools, believe me. But do you really want someone else teaching your child about their religious views? I don’t. We would have to develop a curriculum that was approved and how do you do that? If you want your child to know God, teach them at home. Take them to church. If you are not going to take them, then let someone else take them. But please, don’t try to blame the fact that schools won’t let God inside as the problem. Too many people won’t let God in their homes. If you start letting Him in your home, your kids will take him to school. They will pray during our moment of silence, as we do. They will invite other kids to church. God is there, and we bring Him every time the doors are open.
- “I can’t believe teachers would do that. Some gave their lives for those kids.” While I can’t imagine ever being put in that position, I believe that most would. Teachers are often either blamed with the ills of society or slapped on the back for having summers off, but I don’t think people realize the connection we have to our students. In the past 25 years I have taken kids to the Dr., to see Santa, and even to church. I’ve bought clothes, socks, underwear, shoes, food, Christmas, and glasses. I’ve listened as some have recounted family fights, sexual abuse, thoughts of murder, and thoughts of death for themselves. I’ve held them as they waited for mom, for an ambulance, and for the police. I’ve testified in court against parents, counseled parents on drugs to stop and became friends with parents. We are not saints by any means, it is just what most of us have been drawn to and called to do. I am sick that we are now having to add school shootings as a possibility in what was once our safe place for most kids. I am thankful that Sandy Hook school had teachers who would sacrifice themselves for their students. I hope we never find out for ourselves.
- My final thought: I was very moved by one of the parents who lost a child. He sobbed as he described her, prayed for all the victims and included the shooter’s family. He said he was so lucky to be her dad. It made me think about how many people that I am in contact with daily who do not realize how lucky they are to have the children they do. Most people are good parents but there are the few that shouldn’t have a house plant, let alone a child. I’ll admit, if there is one things in which I question God, this is it. I would pray that if any good comes from this tragedy it is that some will be shaken at the thought that this could be you. Wake up and appreciate your child. I know that this week I have felt much less tolerant of the mediocre parenting that I witness each day.
I once had a friend who lost his children to a violent crime. He said on that day that his life would never be the same again. The same is true for those families. I believe that it is also true for our country as well. We can debate and find blame, we can put plans into place and change laws. There are some forces that we can’t predict or protect ourselves from, but we CAN be the best parents to our children that we can be. That will answer many of the ills of today’s social and criminal ills. Not perfect, but try to live so that you would have no regrets should we find ourselves in a similar (heaven forbid) situation.