Last week we were collectively raped by a troubled young adult whose supreme act of cowardice and evil resulted in the tragic passing of 26 souls. We are shocked; we are violated beyond reckoning; we are pisssssssed. We are filled with questions, mostly unformed, which swirl around the central theme of WHAT. THE. FUCK?!!
And we are looking for someone to blame because we need this fixed and we need it to go away. NOW. This is one of the ways we process the rage fueled by powerlessness.
We’ve all sat in front of the TV before, humming our ‘oh-dear-we-need-to-do-something’ mantras somewhere along the spectrum between raw brokenness and those-poor-bastards-over-there-ism. But this time it is different. He targeted our kids.
So we have taken up our pitchforks, and in an effort to assuage our limbic fear, we have formed two mobs and are lunging at each other with our pokey tines. We are calling each others’ mobs names and we are being quite ugly toward one another. At least I am. I had to stop engaging on the topic of guns with some of my dearest friends because I realized every person truly only needs one exit for excrement and there are better ways to use my words. (I am, though, still waiting for the email from the guy who offered to send me a picture of his genitalia to prove that it is bigger than my hillbilly brain. And I might have threatened to post it on FB because, and I’m not going to lie, I love a good fight.)
About the time I was getting caught up in the energy caused by engaging with the open-minded liberal who had just called me a pussy, a dear friend of mine — a school teacher — posted about her day. Her high schoolers had been asking questions, making requests that would make them feel more safe.
Would she put some paper on the window? Yes.
Would she lock the door? Yes.
“Mizz Ed, would you take a bullet for us?”
To which Mizz Ed responded with teary-eyed conviction, “Every one of us in this building would.”
They needed to know that.
The night of the incident, I was reading an article entitled “How do deal with violent children.” I wanted to know why his mom and dad didn’t keep us safe from their nut job son. I can’t believe they were ignorant that he had issues and that they weren’t trying to get him help. No parent WANTS this for their kid.
Matt saw the title of the article. He’d just kneed his brother in the butt for hogging the WII remote and been met with the perfect amount of scolding. “Why are you reading an article about violent children?” He was wanting to know if his butt-kneeing was grievous enough to the taken to the Internet gods for a ruling. “No, Sweetie, I’m just upset by this whole thing today and I don’t understand how somebody can be so icky.”
They started talking about their lock down drills, so we snuggled up together on the couch while they told me about them. They sit on the rug, very quietly while the teacher locks the doors and puts paper on the windows.
1) What fucked up world has kids going through lock-down drills?
2) Thank you, teachers, for putting the kids through lock down drills.
Talk about lock down drills led to talk about their building and how it’s built for their safety. How the teachers are trained to keep them safe. How every parent that they see would absolutely do anything in their power to keep them safe. How law enforcement is trained and ready to protect them. How we as a family will keep each other safe. How the entire rules of the road are built around school buses. Because we are a society who loves our kids, and if there is one thing that brings us together as humans, it is the safety of our kids.
I left out that when something breaches that code, we feel brutally ripped apart. Together. They’re kids. They haven’t forgotten that yet.
We do this. We protect each other. We don’t fight each other with pitchforks and leave the real issues unaddressed and all of us more vulnerable. We become grounded, and proactive, and we expand to allow complexity and nuance as we walk together toward our solutions.
I’m including a link to an essay written by a mom of a kid at high risk of going wonky. It is very powerful, and it reveals the complexity we face and the ardent need for a proactive address of what we are up against as a society. Let’s do this the right way, Tribe. I promise not to post the picture.
(Brene Brown writes an outstanding book about shame called I Thought It Was Just Me, But It’s Not. Excellent discussion on the insidious rooting of shame which keeps us separated from each other.)