Wow. The last time I wrote to you all here on the blog was back in August when all the craziness went down in Charlottesville. I wish I had better things to write about now, but you all know what happened past week. There was yet another shooting in a school. This one was in our very own state and the victims attended a school just like our own high school down the street. In fact, we know people who had friends who were there. And I know two people whose friend is the mother of one of the girls who died. This event just hit way too close to home for your old mom.
Seventeen people lost their lives on Ash Wednesday (Valentine’s Day, this year). Teenagers with their whole lives ahead of them and teachers who put their students’ safety ahead of their own. Children were terrified for their lives. Parents’ hearts were shattered.
All because a very mentally disturbed young man used a gun he purchased legally to wreak havoc on school that had previously expelled him.
It’s just so wrong. So sad and so, so wrong.
But here’s what I want you to know…
… that you don’t need to be scared to go to school. Not to school or to church or to a concert or to a nightclub (when you’re older, of course). Trust in those who are there to protect you; trust in the procedures that are in place to keep you safe. They are there for a reason. Follow them.
… that you do not need to live in fear, but that you should go out in the world to be light and good and brave. We’ve talked before about the fact that there is evil in this world and there is good. Be the good, my loves. Be the light to counter the darkness and the brave to counter the scared. Your guardian angels are with you always, protecting you. And you have been given the graces of God in the sacraments and through your faith. Draw on them. It’s what they’re there for.
… that school shootings are not and should never be considered normal. You like to watch the news. You like to know what’s going on in the world around you, especially you boys. But when you see a story like this, please please don’t ever think, Welp, there’s another one. Be irate. Be heartbroken. But never, ever be complacent.
… that I’m sorry that the lawmakers of our country haven’t done more to protect you. No, I don’t know all of the laws. I don’t know the intricacies of what they say. I’m not a lawyer, a civics professor, a police officer, or legislator. I’m just your mom. But I am smart enough to put 2 and 2 together and figure out that any number of mass shootings in a country like ours…mass shootings where innocent children are slaughtered in places we parents believe to be safe!…well, that number is just too many. I promise you that in the coming elections, I will do my best to ensure that the people I vote for have the same opinions on this as I do. See, besides raising you all to be good human beings, that’s about all I can do.
And here’s what YOU can do…
… SPEAK OUT! Some of the most moving footage I’ve seen out of Parkland this week have been the testimonies of the students. Your generation is strong and fierce and motivated. Be part of that! When you see and injustice in the world, speak out! And when you are old enough to vote, just two short years away for the oldest of you, do it with your conscience. Laws can change. The Constitution was never meant to be stagnant. Your generation will have the chance to do amazing things. “Be the change” as the saying goes.
… Help others. God forbid, if you see someone hurting, someone you think might be a danger to him/herself, don’t hide it away. Don’t think you are protecting them by being quiet. Be brave enough to alert Mom & Dad, or your teacher or guidance counselor. You all have such good hearts and you can tell when someone else is hurting. Use that gift. You never know when helping others may actually be protecting yourselves or those you love.
…Be big, strong, kind and good. You’ve heard it so many times by now, you could say it in your sleep, I’d bet. Daddy has given you that rule ever since you were itty bitty. Right? And what good advice it is!! You will be faced with scary situations in your lives. There’s no way around it. Be big and be strong. You’re going to find yourselves interacting with people you don’t like, people who think or act differently. Be kind. And for God’s sake (and y’all know I don’t use that term lightly), no matter what this life throws at you…Be good. Be the good. If for no other reason than that you are known and loved by the Creator of the Universe who put you here at this time for a very specific purpose. Be the good. Fulfill that purpose.
…Pray. I refuse to be one of the people who believes that “thoughts and prayers” are useless. Taking an issue of concern to God is never a waste of time. EVER. But thoughts and prayers need action to back them up. Remember that.
I love you with every fiber of my being. And I pray that I’ll be able to tell you that to your sweet faces each and every single day until YOU are the ones who are old and gray and that no lunatic with a gun he shouldn’t have been able to acquire takes that chance away from me. But I have to be brave, don’t I? Just like you, my sweet loves.