For the children. And for us all.

5 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

It's been quite a weekend, hasn't it? I completely forfeited on my NaBloPoMo for this month, and I'm okay with that. I didn't have it in me to blog this weekend. I was so saddened and so heartbroken over the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, that I decided to take my own moment of silence. I'm glad I did. I know that we must keep laughter alive in the world, even in the face of great tragedy, but I haven't really felt much like laughing since then and so, today is going to be a quiet day on Nested, a day of reflection, and a day of hope. 

Since starting this blog less than a year ago, I have posted on 2 massacres. I would like to find another word to use, a word that is less harsh on the page and to the eyes, but unfortunately, our language is limited and there is hardly a better word, nor should I seek a more comfortable one. Tragedies call out for bold words.

Following the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, I posted this quote by Fred Rogers: 

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

                           --Fred Rogers

I have struggled so much with the events of Friday. Carter and I do not yet have children, but we hope to someday. And there are so many helpers, so many wonderful people in the world - this was proven in the loving hands of the first responders who cared for the children, the teachers, and their families. But still, all I could think about, reading the reports, was, "How will I ever let my children out of my sight?" I know that I am repeating an obvious and, I'm sure, oft expressed sentiment when I say that elementary school should be a safe place, a place where children can go without fear and parents can leave their children without worry. Elementary school is supposed to be a place and time where a child's biggest worry should be choosing a color to use in art or deciding whether to have chocolate milk or plain. It should be a place of total safety. 

But that is not the case, it would seem; a fact which breaks my heart. There is all too much violence in our world, too many children who die senselessly and so very young. As I watched the news and saw the aerial shots of the campus taken from helicopters and the stretchers being loaded onto ambulances,  the close-up shots of parents sobbing, I couldn't help but think of this:

“I DON'T CARE!" Harry yelled at them, snatching up a lunascope and throwing it into the fireplace. "I'VE HAD ENOUGH, I'VE SEEN ENOUGH, I WANT OUT, I WANT IT TO END, I DON'T CARE ANYMORE!" 

"You do care," said Dumbledore. He had not flinched or made a single move to stop Harry demolishing his office. His expression was calm, almost detached. "You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it.” 

                  ― J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

In the hours following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, The Onion posted an article entitled: "Fuck Everything, Nation Reports. Just Fuck It All To Hell." Part of it read:

"Despairing sources confirmed that the gunman, armed with a semiautomatic assault rifle—a fucking combat rifle, Jesus—walked into a classroom full of goddamned children ... and, good God, if this is what the world is becoming, then how about we just pack it in and fucking give up, because this is no way to live. 

I mean, honestly, all 315 million Americans confirmed."


When I first read this, it echoed my exact sentiments. We as a nation are bleeding to death with the pain of this. And the pain of what happened in Aurora, Colorado. And Virginia Tech. And Columbine. And the numerous other instances of heinous violence before and since. We are bleeding and our hearts are broken. 
On Saturday, one of my mentors, Ellie, posted a Facebook status about the Mayan prediction. She said:
"At Farmhouse Restaurant tonight H and I sat at the bar and talked to the bartender, a young guy finishing his MA in theology, specializing in eschatology. How appropriate as we approach what the Mayans predict will be the end of the world. I hope the Mayans are right. I think we're all ready for a new world, a better world." 

I have thought about this ever since she posted it yesterday. I don't believe the world will end on Friday, December 21st, any more than anyone else does. But for 26 families, the world did end on Friday, December 14th, or, if it didn't end, it stopped spinning for a while. I imagine that noise gave way to silence, that everything seemed muffled, unreal. 

My heart breaks for each of those families, as it does for all who are mourning in the world, for all of those who have lost or are losing children and loved ones. And the most profound break in my heart is, perhaps, for those who have lost or are losing their loved ones to violence. How can closure be achieved when life is taken, not on the wheel of a random universe, but at the hands of another human? How can hearts mend? 

But contrary to the author of the article on The Onion, I believe that we cannot just pack it in and give up. What lesson does that teach our children? What honor does that bestow upon those we've lost? As Ellie said, I believe we need a new world, a better world. Like Fred Rogers, we need to look for the helpers, but what is more - we need to be the helpers. I hope that this tragedy is not a mere flash in the pan of our 24 hour news cycle. A fellow blogger, Terri, wrote, "Rest in peace, little ones.  Precious ones.  May some manner of Phoenix rise from today’s ash that will, in time, comfort you as you look down upon this human race."

I hope that there is a phoenix somewhere in the ashes of this horrible event. Such acts of violence are happening with startling regularity these days. Let it end here.

Let this be the catalyzing moment for random acts of kindness, for calculated compassion instead of premeditated violence, for words over weapons, for peace. Let us look for the cries for help in those around us and reach our arms out to them, assuring them that they are not alone. And let us love one another, not in a generic, Hallmark sort of way. No. Let us love one another as we love our closest and dearest, extending, always, the compassion and understanding which we hope for ourselves. Let it begin now. And let it begin with us, one kindness at a time.

I know that I'll be watching for that phoenix everyday.…
To the families of those who were lost on Friday, I offer you my prayers, my hopes, and my deepest sympathies. May you find comfort and peace in the love and support of those around you. And to you, sweet angels, good night. May we work tirelessly to make the world a better place in your stead.




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