I’m sorry, but what else could I write about today? While my students participate in Vermont Writes Day, spurred on by 7 compelling prompts, I am halted by nonsensical bloodshed. Not drawn to write about the fantastical, no, not an imaginary letter to the bloat king who degrades our White House, nor a whisper coming from the phone either, not even the kindness which does come in abundance to my doorway, but me, shroud in a gray sheet of helplessness, naked and invisible. I cannot fathom how many children must be gunned down before we all throw our mistempered weapons to the ground.
As I pack my lunch, gather my papers, and head to the same school building, which I have done for 25 years, the morning breaks to new mutiny. I am halted in my doorway. Another assault weapon-toting-mentally-ill person, another massacre of civilians, another scene of carnage while students run for their lives. We seem unfazed. Are we becoming numb to such heinous acts? What else explains our rapid return to routine?
I know what this newest disaster means for me. Bracing for panic attacks, bracing for a new directive from administrators: a new procedure to prepare for the inevitable assault in our hallways. But I don’t want to practice escaping out of my classroom due to a shooter nor do I want to huddle in the corner either. I don’t want to practice barricading the door and ask students to find things to throw at an armed intruder. I don’t want to fill them with false hope, pretend they can outrun outsmart outlive 100 rounds a minute, yet I don’t want them to feel invisible in this epidemic. I can tell you anxiety in teens is a mounting concern, and the reality that schools are easy targets only worsens this predicament. Anxiety in this teacher has peaked.
Are we all blind to the power of the N.R.A.? Do you doubt their overreaching intent? The money they stand to make each time fear pushes us back to the gun dealer? Every new assassin is crafted by this misguided organization, into one who responds to the challenges of life with murder. These lost souls seem determined to rip apart the innocence still pocketed in our classrooms, on our dance floors, movie theaters, churches, shopping malls, even our baseball fields. And yet, Senators stand in line eagerly awaiting their rating. How many will earn their high marks while we fall, bloodied, burying our little ones, time and time again? Senators quake, but not in response to these massacres, instead, they are chided by the manufacturers of the AR-15 to hold the line. You know that salacious line. The one that insists guns don’t kill people, people do. Politicians stand shoulder to shoulder on that. All the while gun sales just go up, realizing more lobbying power. Over 3 million last year alone to lobby the sale of silencers and bump stocks, to ensure the passing of the conceal carry reciprocity act, and to keep mental health records out of background checks. 2017 was a banner year for those who would halt any progress toward creating a safer America. Those who should not hold a small handgun are handed an assault weapon by our politicians. Although the NRA infiltrates across party lines, it is Trump’s full endorsement and his GOP coterie who earn the A rating. Doubt not the flow of cash to continue making guns a solution. These manufacturers intend to continue on and make all of us invisible to their directive.
Oh jeez, this is a post of dread and despair. Perhaps I should have considered one of the student prompts; the one starting with whisper in the phone, turn around, might have been a more uplifting choice. Even in a whisper, I’d know that voice anywhere. Why it is my love, my life, my hope…