Monday, December 24, 2012

The Heartbeat of Humanity

I have been silent while recovering from a fatigue crash but have followed the horrific news about the elementary school shooting.  A lot of it hit home for me, as it did almost everyone on this earth who has a pulse.

I studied to be an elementary school teacher; I have a degree in Early Childhood Education and loved, loved, LOVED teaching the younger children.

I watched as social media went viral with incorrect information about the perpetrator of this crime, I watched the hatred and anger frenzy only add to this confusing and suffocating storm.  I curiously watched and wanted to know about this person who could contrive such an unthinkable series of crimes against humanity itself.

In my own anger and disgust, I called him THE biggest coward in the world to go after innocent children and unarmed teachers.  You want to talk about the heart of humanity?  It doesn’t get any purer or sweeter than children, especially young children still full of natural curiosity, empathy and wonder and the teachers called to educate and nurture them.

I quieted my anger by allowing the grief it was hiding to surface instead, to allow the compassion and empathy to emerge.  To rage would only make me similar to him and I wanted no part in that.  And honestly, there are no answers for the questions I have, there is no reason in the world that would ever ease my aching soul.  There is nothing anyone can tell me that would make this event ever be okay.

I think of all the firsts these families have to face and have already faced.  Imagine taking your child to school or saying good-bye at the bus stop to come home with only the child’s belongings (if that), and the empty bedroom, the empty space at the table, the empty seat in the car, the empty silence.

I can choose to turn off the media or look away from the photos that make me cry, these families and communities cannot.  Theirs is the walk of raw, inescapable reality, the dreams and the nightmares.
One word continued to repeat in my mind over and over, that word is ‘torn.’  These children, teachers and administrators were torn from humanity.

This premeditated act of cruelty shatters every concept we had of feeling safe.  How do we keep our children safe?  How do we keep ourselves safe?  Perhaps it is best to remember we are humans, but we are still animals and we are all very vulnerable.  Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst?

Locks and laws did not save the children and adults that day.  The school had safety measures in place, the doors would lock at a specific time and people had to check in at the office to be allowed in.  Connecticut law bans assault rifles yet they were in the home, owned by the coward’s mother.

Truth is children are murdered every day.  Children in all corners of the world face devastating violence and dire survival every day.  It’s just different when it’s on our soil, or is it?  To what extent do we let the suffering of the world in our hearts and carry it with us?

Growing up we had earthquake drills and fire drills, and as much as I hate to say it, we need emergency evacuation drills or other safety drills.  We are very much a conflicted society in trying to protect our children, but are we protecting them when we fail to teach them about clear and present dangers?  So many questions I have, and so few answers.

The Intrusive Media
I chose to select only one or two news agencies to glean my information from and do my best to suspend any judgment until more is known for sure.  There are those who are only adding to the storm of negativity, stress, strife and making money off of a lot of people’s misery.  I cannot support that type of media or ‘journalism’.

I personally boycotted intrusive media the day the paparazzi killed Princess Diana.  Details of people’s lives are still sacred and none of my business!  Enough said.

The Personal Attacks
The farthest I will go in saying anything about anyone is focusing on the cowardice that is all.  I give no power to the coward.  I have no comments toward mental illness or gun ownership.  This profoundly sad and unfathomable event is sacred ground.

End Note
Personally, I have not yet been successful to go anywhere without seeing children and thinking, “they were that age.”

I can only hope and pray the families and community can find the slightest light and comfort in all this darkness.  I hope, as Oprah says, they experience ‘the visitation’ where loved ones appear in our dreams to let us know they are okay.  And, I hope the families and community never give up until they get the help they need to heal.

We can each be broken by this moment or become stronger, it is the choice each of us have as we sort through this horrific experience. 

Do we allow the heartbeat of humanity that is beating in every one of us to be stifled or silenced because of one person's actions?  Or maybe it's moments like this that help us find 'the better angels of our nature' as Abraham Lincoln said. 

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