A Lifetime of Moments
Those of my mother’s generation know where they were and what they were doing when they first heard of Kennedy’s assassination. My mother can even tell you where she was and what was going on when she heard of Martin Luther King’s assassination. I don’t want to talk about it. It’s not a pretty story.
My generation? Heaven help us.
My first year teaching was the year Harris and Klebold made me question high school teacher as a “safe” profession. (April 20, 1999) Still, I soldiered on through lockdown drills and warily eying some real winners I had in that class. The violence hadn’t touched me personally, so I could push it back into a different compartment, a little panic room I didn’t have to visit.
September 11, 2001 almost brought me to my knees. Not only was I pregnant, but I was also charged with the task of explaining the inexplicable to a group of loveable, silly sophomores. That was the day our music died. I thought, “Surely, this is it. This is going to be the one moment of my life when I say, ‘I know where I was. I remember the ugly blue paisley dress I was wearing.’” I came home and held on to the couch while I watched CNN wondering if I was even doing the right thing by bringing another child into such a cruel, violent world.
By the time Hurricane Katrina came, I was pregnant watching the helpless and the cruelly opportunistic once again. I cradled that baby in my not-even-showing belly. At least with Katrina, I could tell myself that so much of that ugliness and cruelty could’ve been avoided with timely aid. At least the outward devastation had more to do with nature’s caprice than the darker side of man’s soul.
And then the Virginia Tech Massacre came. I was teaching preschool looking at chubby, innocent faces and clapping loudly as those little darlings mastered using the potty. I hugged my own babies, knowing someday I would have to send them off to college. At that moment, I wasn’t in any big rush.
Through all of this and more, I have clung to my faith. I will continue to cling to my faith. I am not a perfect person, far from it. I don’t expect the people around me to be perfect, either, but, for the love, can we cut this out? Take a look at what I remember from the past couple of years:
- 2011—Sandusky scandal breaks
- February 26, 2012 Trayvon Martin is shot.
- July 20, 2012 Dark Knight Massacre in Aurora, CO
- August 5, 2012 Wisconsin Sikh Temple Shooting
- August 13, 2012 Texas A&M Shooting
- September 11, 2012 Attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya
- December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Massacre (I can’t talk about this one yet)
- Early 2013 Steubenville Rape trial
And now on April 15, 2013, explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, a place where so many people were trying to live a once in a lifetime dream. My heart aches for runners and spectators, for witnesses and people who live in and love the city of Boston.
I tell you, enough.
So you’re not getting your way. So people don’t agree with your religion or your politics. Can’t we all agree to not hurt each other? At what point did so many people decide that it’s okay to hurt others to make a point? I’m going to tell you now that all you should get is the right to write a sharply worded letter. Your rights? They end where mine begin. And I don’t think allowing the people around you to live and breathe should really be such a hardship for you.
You know what? Try some kindness. Honey catches more flies than vinegar. Karma tells you that you get what you give. The Torah tells you to love your neighbor. Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek. Concern for the needy is one of the pillars of Islam. Nonviolence is a moral ideal of Hinduism. Pick one or pick something else to believe in as long as you get the idea that hurting people is wrong. Period.
I beg of you mass shooters, bomb detonators, rapists, and all around assholes, please stop. Don’t you understand that I have to send my babies out into that world? Every day I have to send them to school, a place that hasn’t felt safe since Sandy Hook. Someday I’ll have to send them to college. Someday I’ll have to let them chase their dreams by doing crazy things like running 26.2 miles.
Please, please stop.
Get help. Ask a friend. Turn yourself into a mental institute and tell them you’d like the good stuff, but please, please, please, please stop hurting people.
And somewhere in the back of my mind I can see my Granny shaking her head at me in a sad, knowing way. My mind’s eye sees her waving her hand, favoring the middle finger she accidentally amputated the tip of courtesy of the lawn mower. She’s shaking her finger, unintentionally flipping me off as she repeats, “There will be wars and rumors of wars until the end of days.”
And back then I thought the wars she referred to were only fought with armies.