Someone just posted to Facebook a news story about a school shooting in Kentucky. Two people dead, multiple people injured. It turned out that the poster had misread the date on the article and thought that this had just happened today, when it happened in late January instead.
And it still broke me.
For a second there, I thought there’d been another school shooting. “Another” school shooting, when there should never have been a first one to begin with. “Another” school shooting at a time when these things are becoming almost commonplace. “Another” school shooting when these horrors have become a routine part of the daily news.
And then there was the relief that this tragedy was nearly a month old and wasn’t something new. And it’s a guilty and horrifying relief, because how can there be any relief in the face of a school shooting? “Oh, what a relief! Those people died a full month ago.” No.
Yes, it’s good news that there hasn’t been (or hasn’t yet been reported) a new school shooting today. But there should never be a school shooting. Ever.
When the news broke in December 2012 about an elementary school shooting in Connecticut, I freaked out. My nephews were in elementary and preschool in Connecticut, and there was no additional information forthcoming—not immediately, anyway—about where in Connecticut or the name of the school. And those were terrible hours. Not wanting my nephews to be victims of or witnesses to such a violent tragedy, but also not wanting to wish that same tragedy on anyone else.
It was a guilty relief when the news came that it was not my nephews’ school, and not the town in which they lived. My family was safe, but so many other families weren’t.
I watch in amazement as the survivors of last week’s school shooting in Florida rise up and organize and demand not only answers but constructive action to prevent these same acts of violence going forward. I watch in stunned admiration as they refuse to accept misdirection as answers to their calls and as they stand up to authority without being cowed. I watch as these children act on their earned, bold authority to effect real change while the so-called adults in power retreat to their crutches of talking points.
I have said before that watching these young people in Florida and across the nation speak out and rally and organize and refuse to back down has left me feeling more encouraged about the future of this country than I’ve felt in more than a year. They are responding to a crisis and to continuing danger with poise and with compassion and with useful anger, and they are fueling a movement with their grief and outrage while keeping their wits and principles solid and clear. The country’s children are leading the way when the government and other authorities have failed them. I feel so much hope and so much promise when I see what they are doing.
But my heart aches for them. They should never have been put in a position where they witnessed seventeen of their classmates, friends, and teachers die. They should not have had to fear for their lives inside their school. A classroom is no place for gun violence. Neither is a church or a music venue or a shopping mall.
None of this should ever have happened, except that it will in all likelihood happen again.