Today, my heart still hurts. It has been two days since innocent children were murdered, as were the teachers who tried to protect them.
I am a teacher. I wanted to be a teacher so I could teach. Inspire. Help. Create. Motivate. Guide. Nurture. Heal.
I did not know that, as a teacher, I might have to look death in the face. I did not know that I might have to make the decision of whether to take a bullet in order to save a student, or to save myself so that my own child will not grow up motherless. This is not a choice I feel equipped to make.
I do not want to have to go to training to learn how to disarm an attacker. I do not want the responsibility of carrying a weapon into the classroom. I do not want to ever find out if I could take the life of one person, in order to save the lives of others.
I do not want to look at the faces of my students, and wonder which one might want to shoot me. Although, it is something that we all think about now. It is not right, and it is not fair to the student that I am probably judging unfairly.
We have a problem in our country. We have a lot of guns. We have a lot of young people who have a lot of anger. And we have a lot of young people who feel hurt, abandoned, ignored, who just want to make their mark. And we are showing them that if they are monsters, they will be immortalized forever.
So what is the answer? I don't know. I think gun control is a part of it. I think better health care and addressing mental health issues is a part of it. But I think a huge part of it is with families. A huge part of it is morality. A huge part of it is tolerance for those who are different.
Why are 9 year olds playing first person shooter games? What are we as a society thinking when we allow this? Why is violence so glorified and accepted in games, in movies, on tv, in songs? What impression are we making on our children when we show these things as entertainment? Where are parents when their children are watching and playing and listening to these things? And, where are parents when their children are hurting emotionally? If the parents aren't there, where is the rest of society? Why isn't anyone paying attention to the deep hurt and pain and torment in the hearts of our youth?
Our children are growing up in a society of pain. A society that mocks people for their decisions, whatever they may be. A society where it is perfectly acceptable to make fun of people for any reason, and then call it entertainment. A society where violence is glorified, and hopefulness and helpfulness are derided. A society that makes light of drug use. A society that shows casual sex as fun, and if you aren't partaking in drugs and sex and alcohol, well then you're just a prude. People are predicting an apocalypse this year.
It has been said that "life as we know it" will be changed forever. And I for one, fervently hope this is true.
I hope that 2013 ushers in a new age of tolerance, peace, and hope. A new age where people reach out to those in need. A new age where gun control is no longer a hot button political topic, but something that we can discuss as rational human beings. A new age where, if you don't agree with someone's ideas, you can still find respect for them as a human being. And a new age where we help young people find respect for themselves. A new age of love and understanding, where children do not have to turn to sex, or drugs, or alcohol, or violence, just to fill the void inside of themselves.
I don't understand our world. I don't understand a world where someone can be hurting so badly that he thinks it's a good idea to gun down 6 and 7 year olds in cold blood. I cannot imagine what torment he must have felt in order to have it in his heart to perform such heinous acts.
I don't understand it. But I must understand. We all must understand. We cannot look away from this, not ever. We must face these horrors, and we must be willing to change our world so that acts this horrendous will never again be possible, by anyone.
This won't happen just because we make new laws. This won't happen just because people with mental health issues have better access to care. This will only happen if we change people's hearts. And that can only happen if we change our own.