I don’t live my life in fear.
I’ve spent my life taking risks. I get out of bed every day – I could have fallen out and broken my neck. I step in the shower – I could slip. I drink coffee. I could choke! I take on the most dangerous part of my day when I hurl myself at 70-80mph on the interstate on the way to work. One slight miscalculation and I’m dead in fractions of a second. I take on risks with every action every day. I even ride my bike on the road, with cars! I could be run over and maimed or killed! I don’t have kids. If I did, my kids would share the same risks with me.
The senseless act of the recent violent act in Connecticut was horrible. The surviving families, their community, will never forget and will never be the same. My heart goes out to them. But I’m going to say what I need to say.
This was a rare event. Add Columbine. Add other acts of random violence.
When kids go to school, there’s risk. When they’re walking to school, they could be run over by a car. When they’re out during recess, they could get hit by lightning. Alternatively (when they get old enough) they could play the lottery, and win! There are statistics on these things. It’s logical. Children are most likely to die from being in a car accident, disease, genetic condition or even accidental discharge of a fire arm.
Terrorists commit random acts of violence. They intentionally attack where we’re weak to destroy our values, our will, our lifestyle, our sense of safety. Terrorist acts are rare too. But, they’re effective at disrupting our lives. We resist. In a war against terrorism, we fight to preserve our lifestyles and values. Violent acts like Connecticut are only different because they weren’t intentionally performed to create terror. But, we have to fight to resist the consequences.
On Facebook, I have several friends that are elementary school teachers. On the last day before Christmas holidays, one of my friend’s schools has a pajama party. She had to wear a staff shirt that identified her as a teacher so the armed SWAT team that was stationed there could differentiate her from an attacker. Unfortunately I’ve heard this similar situation all over the country. The reaction is like there’s been a war declared against elementary school kids. Has there been?
So what does a society do that prefers peace and love to an intimidating display of force? Several years ago, I read a book by Malcolm Gladwell called “Tipping Point.” It told of a story of an island community that hadn’t had a suicide in 25 years – no one really even understood what it was. One day, a distraught teenager decided to kill himself. It created huge news. Everyone talked about the suicide, the details, why he did it, how he did it. It gave distressed kids a new idea for dealing with their grief. As you may guess, suicides became chronic, spiking to unbelievable levels. Back to my original question – I believe the answer is to quit celebrating these massacres! All we’re doing is inviting the next one. As a matter of fact, the TV is on in the room, and they’re discussing it while I’m typing. It’s the only thing on TV these days.
I posed the question recently to my friends and family “If you heard stories of some country in Africa or the Middle East, where armed guards had to be stationed at schools to protect the children, would you have pity on them?” I would. I can picture a soldier, holding an automatic weapon (you’d have to have serious killing power to stop an assailant with body armor and legal assault weapons), with little kids scurrying around. That’s what the NRA is suggesting as the answer. The other proposal is to arm teachers. That’s the reaction to that terrorist-style fear spreading in our society. Does it remind you of arming pilots to prevent hijackers? It’s a slippery slope.
As I do when I ride my bicycle, I’d rather courageously and logically choose to take the odds. Yes, I just might get run over by a car, but it’s rare. If I had kids, I’d rather take the tiny risk to allow my children go to a school without armed soldiers than to choose a society ruled by paranoia.
Terrorists dream for a day when they can create the fear we’ve fallen for because of this senseless act of violence.