I woke up this past Saturday morning to the news of the Newtown, Connecticut Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. I have spent most of my adult life within a 2 hour drive of Newtown, CT. It is exactly the kind of suburb we would have chosen to live in had Ravi ended up working in New York City. It’s the kind of town that friends of mine have taught in. As I read the names and ages of the victims, I could all too easily imagine the faces of Elanor and her friends in their place.
The only word that came to mind as I read is shattered.
There are far more eloquent discussions happening online about gun control and about mental health.
What I have done is stood in front of a classroom full of children I call “mine.”
What I have done is drop my child off at a school I consider safe.
What I can’t imagine is what it must feel like to be a parent or a sibling or a teacher of a child who is no longer here.
I was curating the rotation curation twitter account @hellofrmSG that day. I couldn’t not talk about it. I couldn’t explain my home nation and our relationship with the “right to bear arms” or how the right to bear a musket evolved into the right to own a high powered automatic rifle. I didn’t know how to explain the power of the NRA. I railed against those who claim Sandy Hook wouldn’t have happened if teachers had guns in their rooms.
Most of all, though, I really can’t express my cynicism and despair that in several weeks the US and our goldfish attention spans (3 seconds) will have moved on and nothing will have changed.
I am ashamed of my country-that we can’t get it together and deal with this like adults. This being gun control, mental health supports, actual safety versus security theater, lobbying and the elected officials it buys organizations like the gun lobby, bullying, and who know how many other issues that fed into the moment that made a murderer and ended the lives of 20 six and seven year olds and 6 teachers.
However, that shame and cynicism are tempered by my profound gratitude that people like Victoria Soto, 27, exist. Ms Soto hid her students in the classroom closet and then sat at her desk. When the murderer came in, she calmly lied and said they were in the office. He murdered her before committing suicide. All of her students survived because of her courage.