Austin, my seven year old grandson, brought home a letter he wrote to his parents about how he spent the week at school. Included with all the things he was learning like animals of the Amazon rainforest and eating healthy meals was that he’d done a lock down drill.
He was now “prepared” if a gunman came into his school.
Lord. Have mercy. My heart hurts.
What have we done?
I am thoughtful about how we make our children, our children, suffer the consequences of our less than good adult decisions. I am especially mindful these days of how often our short-sighted and even selfish choices cause such harm to those who depend on adults to do what’s best for them. What are we thinking?
Why do we allow our children to be placed in situations they have no way to change? Hungry children. Children without health care. Immigrant children taken from their parents. Children no longer feel safe in public spaces.
Why do we pay their teachers such a disrespectful wage? Why do we place responsibilities on teachers we would not be willing to carry our self?
Early days of my ministry at St. Mary’s, there was a mass gun massacre in one place or another. I was horrified, and I actually prepared a sermon in my mind where I invited all gun owners to bring their guns to church, and we’d take them to a place that repurposed guns. I imagined a ground swell of folks stepping up to say that though they had the right to own guns, that they cared more about guns getting into unsafe hands to continue to hold onto them. I imagined that St. Mary’s would lead this transformation of the world.
For one reason or another I never preached that sermon. I look back now and realize how naive I was.
But what if I had?
I pray about what to do even till this day.
Writing my elected officials feels futile since they are top recipients of donations from the National Rifle Association. Yet, I do. Research indicates that arming more people with guns (like teachers) does not keep us safe because it is more likely innocent victims will come into the range of fire.
Something, some things, must change.
We must all give up something of value to figure this out. But may what we give up not be one more person who walks through a door thinking it’s another ordinary day. Until it’s not.
I walked my grandson to the bus stop today. We told each other we loved each other, and then he merrily got on the bus the way only a second grader can.
I pray for all students, teachers, and school staff. I pray for all who believe violence is the way to communicate.
Truly, I pray I’ll see him again.