So, you want to arm me? Do you really? So, you think this will change the harsh reality that is life as an educator in my country.
Today, as you march in D.C., in towns big and small across the world… know this… I hear you. We hear you. I cry for you.. I cry with you.. I stand with you…
I am a teacher and an American and I couldn’t be prouder to hear your young voices so loud and so clear through the noise. We are proud of your courage to stand up against the government and people of influence that seek to silence you. Please keep standing up against the NRA, the politicians, the people who fight so strongly for their right to bear arms that they don’t care if your heart stops beating in Kindergarten before you even had time to have snack, or whether you make it out of 4th block to ask your friend for help with your homework, instead bleeding out in the history class with no time to say goodbye, or whether today is the day where the lock down drills becomes no longer a drill, or whether you’ll give your last breath so that they can keep their assault rifles just in case of a revolution again the country they claim to love so much.
Gun shots ring out in the distance, the distance of communities of all types, from the most affluent to the most impoverished… and dirty politicians with pockets lined with NRA funds… cover their eyes…. purchase the best noise canceling headphones they can… hide behind locked doors in gun-free zones… and tell you guns aren’t the problem…and it’s our constitutional right to have them… as if on some strange auto replay… a message from the 1700s playing on loop in their happy protected lives… a message written with quills and ink on parchment…. a message written with muskets in mind… a message written while women and people of color were thought to not even be worthy of a voice or vote or in some cases freedom.
White men wrote out a plan for this new place, this new country, new land.. they had a vision.. and a beautiful vision.. but some parts were flawed.. and some parts have changed… and they didn’t know that one day those words would be used to justify the innocent murder of children in classrooms, or principals in hallways.. or teachers shielding babies… and I’d like to think that if they knew what destruction those words would bring to our lives and the lives of generations to come.. that maybe they would have been a little more specific.. maybe they would have chosen their words just a little more thoughtfully… more detailed.. about just what they meant.. and just how their words should be used in the future of our nation.
Because I don’t want to die for the constitutional rights that you’ve twisted to mean assault weapons belong in the hands on kids, of adults… on our streets, in our lives.. in our schools… shooting their way through our innocence. Shooting their way through our home, our lives, our communities, our families… our hearts.
And I just can’t believe that our forefathers wrote those words knowing 5 year old kids would be hiding in cabinets hushing their tears while their teacher told the shooter they weren’t there…. bullets piercing her body, as she took her last breath protecting innocent babies hidden in cabinets. I just can’t believe that they could imagine that one day fancy moving pictures could turn into places of massacre. I just can’t believe that they wrote them knowing that one day joyous concert goers would drop like flies as hundreds of bullets descended down upon them from the sky.
I don’t believe that they would write those words, just that way, knowing that my first memory of seeing my teacher and principal cry was walking into the office, as a kid… their faces red… tears streaming down uncontrollably… these women of power in my school life strangely crumbling in front of my eyes.. my teachers.. my school… and I didn’t understand, when they told me that they were sad because they had just found out that in a school somewhere, students and teachers were dying. And I can’t get back that memory…forever outlined in my young mind.. the day bullets made my principal cry.
Kids lost their lives in school that day, but they weren’t the first, nor would they be the last.
And I don’t believe that if they knew that those tears would come again and again from Columbine to Sandy Hook… from my elementary school years, through my high school years, through my college years… so many tears… the tears of my school leaders..the tears of my teachers….the tears of myself as a student.. until the day that the teacher crying became me.
The tears of me, the teacher… crying over the latest victim, another child.
And now, more than ever, I understand their pain.. the pain of educators watching, hearing, and learning, that students wouldn’t make it home today, or tomorrow, or ever. I know all too well the pain of looking out at a sea of impressionable eyes, over an ocean of hopeful hearts and innocent lives and telling them what we need to do if we hear gunshots, what to do if we hear the words announced over the loud speaker “This is a Lock Down”, why my classroom door can never be left unlocked, and why we hide in the darkness, practicing our “What ifs?”… praying that there never comes a day where the shooter is at our door.. looking for another life to take…
When I was in elementary school, fire drills and earthquake drills and tornado drills were what we knew, what we practiced. Today we practice Active Shooter drills… we plan for what could come if death knocks at our school doorstep…. and our children will now forever have to have a plan.. and I forever have to have a plan… for how my body would be first and my children would be hidden, if the bullets began to fly… because no teacher I know wouldn’t go first, to shield the precious lives we are entrusted with each day.
Parents entrust us with their most precious gifts, their most prized possessions, for many hours each day, 180 days each year, 13 years of their lives at least.. and that is a whole lot of time and a whole lot of trust for moms and dads to give us. And each year for 10 years I’ve signed a contract promising you I’d take care of that precious gift. That I’d teach, nurture, love, guide, and protect them under my watchful eyes… And luckily every child who has walked into my classroom has made it home.. but not every teacher has been so lucky.. for far too many… for far too many years.. parents have been met with the terror of hearing that their babies weren’t coming home.. that this was their final day of school.. their final day on Earth… and something’s gotta give.
So, Parkland WE HEAR YOU, Sandy Hook WE HEAR YOU, Columbine WE HEAR YOU.. and the countless other schools across the country from the 90s until now…
WE HEAR YOU, and we’ve failed you.. we’ve failed you all miserably..
And if you are reading this and somehow don’t believe we failed.. take a look at those links… look how they grow… look how many parents, teachers, children’s lives were forever changed in just these last 28 years… look for yourself… and then stare a mother in the eyes and tell her again about how “guns don’t kill people” and gun regulations won’t change anything.
So raise your voices children and don’t give up, because our lives, your lives depend on it, and you have more power than you’ll ever know if you raise your voices loud and proud and never quit. Even when you feel you’re losing your voice, don’t stop. We can’t stop. We need change. You need change. I hear you. We hear you.. and hopefully if we all yell loud enough “THEY” will hear you.. and if they don’t… “THEY” will hear the closing of the door behind them when you vote them out of the protected office walls they hide behind.
I’m a teacher.. and you say you want to arm me…
Ok..but only arm me with these things…
Arm me with hope for the future by properly funding public education… arm me with the comfort of knowing that it takes more to get a gun than a driver’s license.. arm me with the knowledge that an angry person can’t legally walk into a store and out with an assault rifle and gun down my kids… arm me with the fact that mental health services are ample and adequately available to children and adults of all ages, with or without health insurance, regardless of socioeconomic status or affluence… arm me with more books, more paper, more pencils, and more Kleenex to dry our eyes the next time a child dies because you did nothing…. because we are all out.
Arm me with more freedom to teach skills beyond the test and help me foster the development of young minds that are far more capable than any test scores could ever begin to show…. arm me with resources to help my students make it out of poverty and into a brighter future… arm me with a school filled with counselors and social workers with enough time to reach every child in my room when they need help or someone to listen… arm me with a salary that matches the professional skills and countless mini miracles we teachers perform every day at public schools your very own children probably don’t attend because you are wealthy enough that you don’t want your children getting “just a public education”…
Arm me with a nation with smarter gun laws to keep us just a little bit safer and lower the chance of me or my students taking a bullet at school just a little bit more please…. arm me with the ability to witness you show me through legislative action that your selfish concerns are not more important than the life of my students…
Arm me with the confidence that finally….this time…. something will change
Arm me with the knowledge that you’re finally going to do more than send thoughts and prayers when another child dies. Arm me with the strength to keep teaching, keep guiding, keep helping every single child I can, for as long as I can, when mentally the exhaustion of practicing hiding kids in closets and imagining taking bullets gets too much to handle…
Arm me with all of these things and more… but don’t you dare tell me to put a gun in my drawer or on my waist or in my closet. Don’t you dare tell me guns are the answers in schools where the very foundations of their communities bleed from the destructive nature that guns can rain down on everyone around. Don’t you dare tell me “guns don’t kill people” when I’ve dried the eyes of countless children who have lost family and friends because of a bullet from a gun, when I’ve listened to far too many stories, and comforted far too many kids with broken hearts and homes, whose parents sit locked behind bars and concrete because of choice they made with a gun. Don’t you dare tell me more guns are the answer to the tragedy of gun violence in our country…
Don’t you dare tell me that gun laws won’t do anything to keep guns out of the hands of bad guys, while you pass law after law that you justify is necessary to keep everything else out of bad guy’s hands. The hypocrisy of your arguments have not gone unnoticed . You say laws are absolutely necessary to stop every other kind of thing you find important, whether it be drugs or abortions or whether a baker can refuse to sell me a cake in my home state when I marry my bride, but for some reason you just can’t use the same logic with guns. The logic that if those laws are needed to prevent those things from happening… so are gun laws…even if we all know laws aren’t 100% effective… even if addicts can still find drugs, women still get abortions, and I can still find a baker who isn’t a homophobic asshole to give my business to on my wedding day.
Because if gun laws won’t change things, why keep any laws then? Why bother having laws at all if your logic is bad guys will still do bad things? I bet you aren’t getting rid of any of those other laws anytime soon, so maybe start changing the argument, or listening to the million crying out for you to be just reasonable in how you react to the massacre this time. Loosen your grip on your gun, and listen.
And let’s pause for a minute there to realize, that you found it important enough in my state to pass that bill, to take that time… to protect your religious beliefs and deny LGBT people services like housing or healthcare, but you won’t take the same time to protect a bullet from entering a child’s head by passing stronger gun regulations or smarter laws regarding the sale of guns. We see where your priorities lie, and it spits in the face of grieving citizens nationwide.
And if you really don’t see it, see your ridiculously stupid arguments for why gun laws won’t work… just look at the statistics of our country vs. the world.. where laws are in place already.. where change has already been made in response to acts of violence… where numbers have decreased or vanished completely…. or even the statistics of the difference between deaths in our own nation with and without the assault rifle ban. Wake the fuck up. Please.
Today you marched on Washington, you marched around the world, you raised your voices.. and for that I salute you and I know millions worldwide do too. Radical change begins with people like you willing to stand out in the crowd and not let your voices be drowned out by money hungry politicians or lobbyists trying to steer the conversation elsewhere. The illusion of care, and the action of ignorance from the people in power.
So, to you, people in power please please listen, because children are begging for their lives… teachers are begging for you to care.. parents are begging you to help keep their children alive… victim’s families are begging you to finally do something this time so that their children did not die in vain… to finally listen.. to finally make change… to finally act like you care for the lives of every person killed each day from gun violence in our nation… survivors are crying and have been for years, for this to be the last… this to be what it takes.. Wake up! Please! Listen!
POLITICIANS, CONGRESSMEN, SENATORS, GOVERNORS, PRESIDENT TRUMP….
LISTEN PLEASE, FOR WE ARE SCREAMING OUT IN PAIN ….
HEAR OUR CRIES..
AND HEAR THE SILENCE OF THOSE WHO CAN NO LONGER CRY…
THEN DO SOMETHING….
AND NO… DON’T GIVE ME A GUN….
GIVE ME PEACE OF MIND…
GIVE ME HOPE…
THAT CHANGE IS COMING..
AND THAT FINALLY…ENOUGH IS ENOUGH