It is something a good friend of mine used to say anytime we parted. After he passed away just thinking about it made me miss him. Not "bye" or "see you later", but "Don't get shot." Cause it is a crazy ass world out there, there you never know what could happen, so stay safe and don't get shot. Anyway it was years after my friend passed before I could comfortably repeat the sentiment. Now every Friday, every time the bell rings to release my high schoolers for the weekend I say goodbye with something along these lines, "Behave yourselves, make good choices, have fun, make your mamma proud and don't get shot." They always giggle. I guess it is kind of a way of telling them to live life to the fullest. On Monday I tell them that I am glad to see them and I'm glad that they survived the weekend. Recent events have me reconsidering my words.
Last year a kid got shot breaking into one of our middle schools. Over Christmas break the stepmother of one of my students was shot and killed. The week after that one of our students was shot as a gas station was being robbed. She is still in the hospital. Besides the gun violence there has also been two tragic car accidents. One killed one of my former students and the other left a hole in our schools library and a young man in the hospital. Both car accidents involved drunk drivers. Pointless violence, pointless tragedy and all of it so preventable.
I keep seeing in the news that in light of the recent shootings people want concealed weapons to be carried in schools. Some even feel that teachers should be carrying weapons. I will explain why that is a horrible idea in a second, but let me explain something else first. More people carrying more weapons will only lead to more paranoia, anger and violence. I really feel that more people carrying more weapons is really just like putting a band-aid on a scrape. I believe we would be better serving each other if we worked harder to prevent the scrape in the first place. I know you might be thinking I'm naive, that there is simply too much crazy out there in the world. The violence I am aware of. The second paragraph of this post is just a tiny bit of what the world holds.
As I was saying, it seems to me that preventative measures would be more effective than reactive measures. Reaching out to peers that seem overly burdened, defending people when they are bullied, befriending those that seem lonely, and helping people get professional help when they need more than we can provide. Not just prayer is needed, but action. I'm sorry, but I cannot believe that the world we live in is so stuck in a downward spiral that the only hope is an arms race between "us" and "them." There are too many good things that happen everyday. My babies deserve to live in a world where people work together instead of attacking each other. You never know when someone might be in need of a friend, so open your eyes and ears, pray for guidance, and reach out to the people around you.
By the way, if you have ever taught or know any teachers you understand that it is one of the most stressful careers out there. We plan, organize, teach, parent, counsel, administer, mediate, explain, accommodate, regroup, re-teach, report and reply and that is all within the first two hours of the workday. I have seen teachers snap and verbally attack students, throw things like toddlers, and walk out of the classroom because they have lost their composure. Not all teachers are that immature, but a person under that much stress is not someone that needs to be carrying a weapon. We have two fully capable police officers on our campus. Defending us and our students is their job. Teachers have enough to worry about.