Sunday, December 16, 2012
My wife, Cristin, turned 35 on Friday, December 14th, 2012. She was a 4th grade teacher until my youngest daughter, Eden, joined us on December 19th, 2008. A Pinkalicious birthday party on Saturday, December 15th, 2012 marked the 4th year of her life. My oldest daughter, Gwenyth (who blessed us on August 9th, 1999), recently became a teenager, and she gathered with us as family and friends, to celebrate life, to celebrate love.
I thought about my girls. I think about my girls. What would my wife be feeling if she was trying to protect children in her care? What would she have been thinking as she was struck down in the line of duty? What would have been going through the minds of my daughters as their friends were being removed permanently from this world? What would the last look on their faces be, and their last wonderings be, as they realized the end was coming for them?
I thought about me as well. I think about me. As a former elementary school principal, and a current middle school assistant principal, I wonder if I would rush to protect others, knowing that I would likely meet my Maker. Quite honestly, I consider it often. I have the privilege of working with so many children, but many times I am interacting with them and their parents when things are not going well. While most consider me helpful, I’ve far too often had people - young and old alike - express a great deal of anger and hatred toward me. I don’t live or work in fear, but I do live and work in reality.
It can overwhelm a person. Feelings of helplessness, of hopelessness, can drown our spirit. Thinking about it makes us feel so sad, and grateful, and guilty all at the same time. And, then, the debates begin. We observe, and participate in, verbal sparring over what’s wrong, and what must be done to fix it. Answers are sought, not found, and we are left with the feeling of just giving up. So, the cycle continues: Life goes on like normal until the next tragedy that strikes a chord with us puts things at the front of our minds once again. Well, at least for a little while.
Instead of simply giving up, I wonder what we’d actually be willing to give up to bring an end to this depressing and frequent cycle. Would we give up our rights, our money, our lives, to save our own partner and children from being taken from us before we’re ready? Would we give up our pride to yield humbly to another, if it meant saving the life of our family, if it meant saving our own lives, if it meant saving the lives of others? Would we give up our need to be right, our hatred of being wrong, and our unwillingness to listen, if it meant the tragedies that befall ourselves and others may be extinguished? What would you, will you, be willing to give up?
Temptation draws me toward cynicism. While I feel somewhat uncomfortable, I smirk as the debate about guns rage with a smug, self-righteous, and vitriolic rhetoric. I raise my eyebrows when comments fly about holding people responsible for deaths, while at the same time whining about putting any amount of “my” money toward helping provide care and health and education for “those” people. And, then, “those” people are standing over my dead family. So, fixing it becomes about taking away weapons that we feel we have a right to - for defense, for sport, for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, for whatever. Fixing it becomes about “those” people taking personal responsibility with little or no resources. Or, fixing it becomes about penalizing more strictly “those” people … long after it’s already over.
I’m not interested in a debate. A debate is just a more civil way of arguing. None of us, in our rational and sane minds, hope to see our loved ones suffer and die, so it doesn’t make much sense to argue about it. No, I’m ready to listen, I’m ready to give, I’m ready to do whatever it takes. Are you?
~ For all lives lost, everywhere and everyday. May each one find the way home again.