Cleaning up a mess
A rant, if you will. I believe words are more powerful than weapons.
"All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten"
by Robert Fulghum
All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at school. These are the things I learned:
Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life - Learn some and think some And draw and paint and sing and dance And play and work everyday some. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, Watch out for traffic, Hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder.
I think we’ve made a mistake somewhere along the way, and I’m not really sure where. I can’t say if it is a parenting mistake, an education mistake, media confusion or some sort of governmental/regulation error; what I know for sure is that somehow we have given the youth of today the impression that if you are upset about something, it is okay to grab a weapon and start killing people, and that will make things okay. Am I the only one who finds zero logic in this so-called solution?
Granted, it is not logical at all to think that everyone can get along. There is never going to be a time that all people of all walks of life are going to agree on everything. Never. And that’s okay. Disagreeing is one thing; taking a gun and shooting other people because they don’t have the same thought process, ambitions, hair texture, ethic origin or color of shirt…. That’s not okay. Listen, people: In order for this to all work, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on a few things: there is no one religion that will suit everybody; it is not wrong to believe in a different philosophy or way of life; there is no one skin color that is better or worse; all people are worth knowing, being heard and left in peace; and there is no one country that is better or worse or has more rights than others.
Remember what we learned in the sandbox? Share your toys. Share your space. Share your ideas. What you give is what you get. Be happy with what you have. Nobody likes a bully, so don’t be one.
I just made the mistake of googling ‘US school shootings’ and I am astonished at the list I found. Even a child as young as 6 has brought a gun to school and killed a fellow student! 6! We should be ashamed of ourselves for allowing things to fall apart to such a degree, to have made such a mess, and still be squabbling about how to mend our ways. Friends, our children are watching us. Our children are learning bad habits about how to ‘fix’ problems, and how to ‘treat’ people they don’t agree with. Our children are seeing us not step forward, even when it is uncomfortable, and saying we’ve had enough already. That we are wrong, we are sorry, and we have had enough. What our children should be learning instead is how to try to make things work even amidst disagreement, and how to make friends instead of weaponry. Who better to fix this mess than us right now?
Every time I hear of such a tragedy (which, I might add, is with frighteningly greater frequency, I think two things. First, I grieve for those children and teachers and caregivers lost. Those moms and dads who protected other people’s children when another could not see past the self-pity and the hate to think about the lives they were trying to eliminate. Second, I think about how grateful I am that we are expats, how glad I am that because of what my spouse does, and where we live, we have the quasi-safety bubble around our children. Oh sure, here, we are not blindly immune. Here exists guns, and horrible people, sure, but not in the same over-hanging cloud of possibility that today might just be the day that I kiss my children goodbye as they board the bus, and I will not see them again. How does every mom and every dad in the US do that, every day? How do they send their children off to school, weighing the balance between the need to educate and the need to protect their children? When did it become a question of one or the other? We have created such a mess.
Is it that the laws make it too easy to get a gun? Is it that the media has elevated those guilty of such atrocities to near-stardom celebrity? Is it that we’ve lost the ability to communicate effectively? Is it that we are so out of touch with our inner voice that we can’t tell right from wrong? Is it that we feel ourselves to be exceptions to the laws that regulate? Is it that our value our own opinion above others? Is it that we have all forgotten how to play nicely with others? I so wish I knew. I so wish we would step forward and accept the responsibility of the bad behavior and the burden of making a change. A gun should never be a part of an acceptable solution.
Our children need to get back to being aware of wonder rather than having to look over their shoulders at who might be coming into their schoolyard next. I say no more of this. Who’s with me?