I feel like my heart has been rubbed raw lately. We’ve been dealing with some big things in our family, in addition to yet another school shooting where so many kids’ (who were the same ages as my children) lost their lives, plus the almost daily threat alerts I receive from my son’s school, the arrests made at nearby schools where we know students, and the blatant refusal of so many to even engage in a conversation about making any facet of this problem better….ugh. It’s a lot and I’m so tired.
I’m tired of being told that this issue is a failure of parenting when nearly all of the parents I know are busting their butts to raise thoughtful, compassionate, engaged, hardworking, intelligent human beings.
I’m tired of being told that this is a result of our moral failures and that God has turned His back on us since we don’t pray in schools anymore, as if He was more pleased when human beings made in His image were being lynched regularly, among other horrific things, just as long as the Lord’s Prayer was being recited publicly.
I’m tired of being told kids these days are ignorant and entitled, when the adults in the room are the ones throwing tantrums over the prospect of their toys being more regulated, even slightly.
I’m tired of the fact that so many are unwilling to have hard conversations, the kind that go beyond memorized rhetoric and talking points, to answer hard questions about where they stand and why, to think critically, and sometimes admit they don’t have the answers but they are willing to search for them alongside others even if they may not see eye to eye.
I’m tired of people who claim my Jesus’ name to continually shout “ME FIRST!” and insist on their own rights above the rights of others, in spite of the example He gave us.
I’m tired of the people who commit these atrocities being written off as simply “evil” because if we can just blame evil, we don’t need to examine things any further and determine what we could have done better or what may have prevented it from happening at all.
I’m tired of people with mental illness being broadly painted as perpetrators when they are far more likely to be victims.
I’m tired of the enormous cracks in mental health services in our country (and the cracks in every facet of healthcare, honestly) that make it so hard for individuals who struggle (or their parents) to get the help they need when they need it.
I’m tired of kids being gunned down in buildings that are meant for their safety and edification, and I’m tired of worrying that my kid or another kid that we care about or any number of educators or staff members that we love, might be next.
I’m tired of my heart stopping every time I get a call or email from my son’s campus.
I’m tired of being told laws and regulations don’t work, even as those same people fight to create regulations that protect those who would discriminate against others on “religious” grounds, to make drug laws tougher, to make voting laws more stringent, and support many other laws that fall in line with their personal views.
I’m just tired. Tired and heartbroken. Yesterday as I drove to pick my son up from high school, Slow Down came on. (If you don’t know this song, so watch the video and then come back.) I listened to that song and thought of my teenage son, and I thought of all the parents of all the kids who have been gunned down. Those parents who loved their children just as impossibly much as I love my children, who no longer get to urge their babies to slow down, because their babies no longer get to grow or change or finish their metamorphosis into adulthood. No prom, no graduation, no dropping them off at college, no weddings, no grandchildren. None of the future stuff. No more of the small, beautiful or irksome, daily stuff either. No more shared laughs or arguments about chores or easy banter or beautiful smiles or messy bedrooms or slammed doors or eye-rolls or constantly chauffeuring to and from. Their babies are gone from this earth, in a blink. On a normal day, they sent their kids off to school, and they will never get them back. We did not pull the trigger, but we allowed it to happen, through inaction or the wrong kind of action.
Things have to change. I don’t have all the right answers, but we can’t simply continue to shrug because we don’t like the possibilities or because facing the real problems might be uncomfortable and perhaps too close to home. This will not be solved overnight. There is no law or policy or service that will eradicate these horrors from our nation in a blink, but that is no reason not to try to save as many lives as we can, to try to do better than we are doing right now. Can we try? Can we admit that we don’t have all the answers, and that some of the answers might require us to compromise? Can we have hard conversations in a reasonable manner and step back from our position long enough to see it with someone else’s eyes? Can we please try? I need us to try, because the prospect of sending my son off to school one day and him never returning is not a prospect that I can shrug about any longer.