A Teacher and School Violence

My voice will not be the only voice speaking this morning in anger, sadness and disgust.  My head will not be the only head filled with media images and sounds of violence, sadness and fear. Many voices stronger and louder than mine have spoken powerful words of sadness and condemnation for the state of our country and its love affair with guns.  I will speak none-the-less.

As many of you know, I am a retired teacher.  I have helped children deal with school violence since the mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999. Seeing children flinch in their seats at the sound of a banging door, watching children respond with disdain at the feeble attempts at safety protocols and rehearsals for potential threats ins school, and imagining our response to a live shooter in the building or visualizing ourselves trying to staunch the flow of blood from a mortally wounded child in my classroom is the silent burden every teacher carries every waking minute of every day. Sometimes our dreams are haunted by fears and worries, too.

You see, adult teachers know that they face death at any moment every morning when they walk in the school door. We know how many hurting and damaged children are in the seats every day. We know that despite the hard work of counselors and administration, hurting and angry children face us with thoughts of violence — every day.

Perhaps, if, like teachers, Senators and Congressmen had to carry the daily burden of a real and imminent threat of facing death, we would have some movement in the regulation of deadly weapons. Perhaps, if Senators and Congressmen, had the physical responsibility of keeping twenty-five young lives safe at any given moment of their day, they would be able to see beyond their wallets stuffed with IRA dollars.  Perhaps, if, the children, grand-children and wives of Senators and Congressmen, were facing the daily terrorism of imminent school violence, we would have some authentic conversation about guns in America.

But, in this country, we are in love with the idea that our politicians are public servants; when, in reality, many of our politicians are self-serving: favoring cronyism, self aggrandisement and the accrual of wealth.

When will it stop? How can we reconcile the right to bear arms with the proliferation of high powered guns designed to inflict death on a massive scale? As I sit here and write this, I question my activism, my willingness to get my butt off the couch and become involved in the social and political issues that concern me.  Today is a new day.  Get up with me and make your voice heard.