Letters to the Editor II
I have been silent.
Not because I wanted to be.
Not because I believe silence is the answer.
But because I was waiting for the right thing to say.
Dear Readers, Non-Readers, and People around the World;
We have all been dealt a heavy hand. Last Friday, the poor teachers and children murdered left us shaken and destroyed.
And it frightened me, as I have never been frightened before.
My generation. Generation “Millenials.” Generation Y. Whatever you want to call us. Those my age, and those who have come after us.
We live in a world, in a society, in a culture, that–that petrifies me.
I remember too much.
I remember driving through Oklahoma City during the bombing. We were scared.
I remember the terrorism bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Was nothing safe?
I remember the shooting at Columbine. 12 students killed. 1 teacher. My school, my brother’s high school, we all feared our safety. We all grieved. Trenchcoats were outlawed. There were prank calls and outbreaks of violence at my brothers high school. We thought, how could teenagers be so cruel? We wanted to blame the media. To blame Marilyn Manson. To blame so much. We were afraid to blame ourselves. We said it would never happen again.
I remember the shooting at Fort Worth, Texas. A shooting happened again. Impossible, we had said. Not impossible. How could there be other crimes, in the wake of Columbine, we thought. How?
I remember being taunted, threatened, and petrified of the weird boy who wore all black at my high school. The one who drew pictures of killing people, was full of hatred, who gave himself a bloody nose in a cup and then came and tried to pour it on me. I remember the boy who seemed so like Boo Radley, without the compassionate side. No one ever helped him. No one ever treated him for his clearly disturbed words and actions. He hung himself in his college dorm room closet. He, so easily, could have hurt others. Why did we as society not do something about him? Why did his parents not give him help? Why was he allowed to scare me every day? Why did he kill himself? We do not know. We are afraid of the answer.
I remember watching the plane crash into the second tower on September 11, 2011. I watched in between classes. On a television in my library after history class. We cried together. A girl at my high school had a relative go down in the plane in Pennsylvania. Others had family in the towers. We wondered how such a thing could be possible. We cried. We vowed never again. We were no longer high school children. Overnight, we were all adults.
I remember the Virginia Tech shootings. I was in college. A kappa kappa gamma sister was shot and killed. That day, we reminded ourselves that we were all Kappa sisters. I have met her friends, who still grieve to this day. Met those who had even known the cruel shooter. We thought, how could such a thing happen? How can we prevent such a thing again? 32 people were gone forever. High Schools, Colleges, no where seemed safe. We did not know who to blame. We did nothing.
I remember hearing about so many other shootings. NIU. The school bus. The nursing home. Congresswoman Giffords. We wondered HOW COULD THIS KEEP HAPPENING?!? Still, we grieved as a nation. We said “something must be done.” We are afraid to do anything. We are afraid to ask why. So we avoid the question.
My children will not understand the difference between Columbine and last Friday’s shootings. They will not understand the Oklahoma City Bombing or the fear we felt after 09/11. They will not understand, because the violence has become a regular occurrence.
How could we let this happen?
27 deaths. One day. So many children. Teachers near to my age. So many traumatized. The pain in my heart is immense.
And finally. We start to ask. Why?
But will we answer the question?
HOW. What. When. WHY!?!
The biggest question is.
What will we do now?
There has been so many choosing silence. Silence to honor those who died. Silence of blogs, silence on twitter, silence on facebook. People posting memorial pictures on facebook, but otherwise going about their business–silently. People silently praying in churches. But, while silence may show our compassion, our hurt, and our grief as a country, silence is not the answer.
We cannot be silent.
I want my family to live in a better tomorrow. Where a 4th grader doesn’t have to see such gruesome images of death. Doesn’t need to live in fear. Where the sick get help they need–before they turn to suicide and murder. Where we actually provide for a better tomorrow. Where we make that promise a reality.
We need to stand up.
We need to be brave.
We cannot pretend there is not a problem. We cannot hide behind technology or guns. We cannot blame the attackers. We cannot blame the guns.
We can only blame ourselves. All of us, we are guilty. We have let too many things come, too many incidents tear us apart, and we have not done a thing. We avoid the pain. We have chosen silence. We take the easy path.
The greatest generation did not raise their children this way. The generation before them did not. The Baby Boomers would not have acted this way forty years ago.
How have we changed? How have we let our emotions and our fear overtake us?
How can we let compassion rule? How can we speak up, how can we take action, how can we “be the change we want to see in the world?”
It is a time for Bravery.
It is not a coincidence that the most popular books in recent history are Harry Potter. Stories of good vs. evil. Where evil loses. But evil is not necessarily easy to find or see. I don’t know if I even believe in evil. But I do believe in good. In our capacity for good.
And I think it is time that we take a stand. We must look at ourselves–all of us. Our cell phones, our parenting skills, our treatment of educational systems, our treatment of gun laws, our treatment of those with mental illness, our treatment of each other. And we must reaxamine. And we must make changes. We must be brave enough to see our own faults. And be willing to change them. Together.
We cannot blame one person for any of these acts of violence–although “one person” may be whom we hold accountable for in print.
It is bigger than that. It is beyond that. We must examine ourselves. We must bring change to the world. We must speak up.We must say thank you. We must teach our children love. We must communicate. Have family dinners. Turn off the telephone. Take away the iPads. Teach our children discipline. Teach our children real play. We must break bread with our enemies and learn how to break bread with ourselves.
We must learn to love ourselves.
Because we can change the world. But we have to start close to home first.
Let’s take action. Let’s make the world a better place. Let’s make sure my children don’t know so many horrific acts of violence.
Let’s learn to love.
Because I am hopeful. Hopeful that we can change our world. Hopeful for a better tomorrow.
And I am ready to do something about it.
Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote “life is worth living as long as there’s a laugh in it.” And I can think of no better laugh than that of a young child. Let’s give them a reason to laugh. Let’s give them joy.
And so, this Christmas season, all I want for Christmas is love. Because if we start with love. We can be the change.
Don’t choose silence. Choose action. Step up and make a difference. Open your heart to compassion. Make time this holiday season, and always, to really be present with those around you. Let’s bring hope for a better tomorrow. Beginning today.
Because we can do it. But we must all step up together.
Let GOOD win. Let love be victorious.
How will you change the world for the better?
Let’s begin today.
|I don’t think it is a coincidence that my post on Friday called for play. Here I am in pre-school with my best friend. Look at how we held hands, happy to have one another. Can we all hold hands with one another with that simplicity and love today?|