“Imagine all the people, living life in peace.” ~Imagine, John Lennon
About a month or so ago, I was volunteering in my son’s Kindergarten classroom when I noticed that two police cars had pulled up outside.
I watched as my son’s two teachers, one who has been a Kindergarten teacher for more than twenty years and the other, a young woman only a few years into her career, made eye contact and then slowly began making their way around the room, pulling closed the blinds, locking the classroom door and taping dark, thick cardboard onto the windows that would block the view into the classroom from the hallway.
They did this, all while continuing to instruct their five and six year old students through their schoolwork as though nothing out of the ordinary was happening. As I stood there, unsure of what was going on or what I should be doing, the veteran teacher approached, put her arm around me and said, “It’s probably just a drill, but we’re prepared.”
I looked around the classroom. At the tiny little humans hunched over their school work, crayons in hand, chatting with one another while they colored and giggled. I was struck by how truly vulnerable they were.
A lump formed in my throat when I looked at my son and in that moment, though I felt fairly certain that this was, in fact, just a drill, it wasn’t hard to imagine what could happen next if it wasn’t.
My own eyes began darting around the classroom wondering where we would go and how we would hide. I’m not a particularly sensitive or dramatic personality, but I was truly terrified by just the implications the drill represented.
Then, my fear gave way to boiling anger.
The teachers words, “we’re prepared” kept running through my mind over and over and I realized that being “prepared” meant a lot of things.
These women, were prepared to follow the lockdown procedures they had been trained to initiate in the event of an emergency.
They were prepared to guide and protect their students through whatever came next.
And really, they were as prepared as they were going to be, to die; either alongside their students or on behalf of them.
Our teachers aren’t soldiers and yet, we are saying to them, “teach my kid to read and write and also….take a bullet for him.”
And they are. School shootings across the country have proven how brave and selfless our educators are and we’ve done nothing for them in return.
We are fucked up, America. I don’t know how else you describe a nation that continues to prioritize the accessibility of guns and ammunition over the safety of it’s most precious and innocent citizens.
Shame on us for the world we’ve created for them.
Still, I’m a born optimist and I like to believe there is hope for change. I just have little faith that change will come from those who have been complicit in championing the problem.
Instead, I think it will be our kids who effect great change. And when they do, it won’t because of us. It will be despite us.