I live about 20 minutes away from Newtown, Connecticut. When this terrible thing happened, I was in class all of a sudden I heard:
CODE BLUE – CODE BLUE- THIS IS NOT A DRILL – CODE BLUE
and LOCKDOWN! We were all huddled underneath a window, barely breathing, wondering if the next sound we were going to hear were shots and then BAM! the door jumped and someone rattled the doorknob and my world, my heart, my breath stopped- and I wondered which kid, who in my school who had been bullied and excluded and made fun of and harassed so much that he (or she) couldn’t TAKE ONE SINGLE MINUTE MORE was going to come through that door and shoot my friends and I. I prayed. Then, as I realized that it was ok, we were ok. I wanted to cry, but I held it together because sometimes you just have to. So I kept calm and texted my Mom who assured me that it was ONLY on Newtown, it was ONLY one shooter- he was dead- we were ok, and that I was safe. I have never felt less safe in my life. I wonder if I will ever feel completely safe again. Once school was out, I walked to our truck with a friend (no one wanted to go home alone that day) I looked at my Mom and tried to stay brave but I burst into tears. She held me as I wept for so many thing- for those poor children and teachers and their families and for the fact that my life will never, ever feel the same again. I will never feel completely safe again.
This awful thing that happened wasn’t because of any one thing. It wasn’t JUST because of guns- oh I am SO sick of hearing that. Of course it played a HUGE part but there had to have been- there ALWAYS IS – a catalyst that forced the use of violence It wasn’t because Adam Lanza may have had Asperger’s- just having Asperger’s or Autism doesn’t make him suspect of being violent. What I have read about him is that he was always “different”. It seems as if he never “fit in”. I’ve read the same about Dillon Kiebold, Eric Harris, and Seung-Hui Choi. Every single one of those people felt at one point, different and alone. This does NOT negate the evil of what they did- let me be perfectly clear: I am NOT STANDING UP FOR THEM or excusing what they did- and the bottom line is that they have to take responsibility for their actions and they are all probably burning in hell. But I have to ask- would they have gotten to this hopeless point if maybe, just maybe they didn’t feel so alone? What if they weren’t bullied/ignored/teased/forgotten? What if they felt as if they mattered to someone?
What if we stopped being a society that cared so much about FITTING IN and and became a society that just CARED?
Some kids wrote to President Obama asking to him to help – and he used that in his press conference to talk about gun control. but what I wish most of all all is for the politicians to put aside all the posturing and come up with a way to encourage kindness and empathy for others. We need to take a very big and FIRM stance on bullying. It should not be tolerated at all- ever. We need to encourage acts of kindness and acceptance. Right after all this happened Ann Curry asked people to do 26 Acts of Kindness. #26Acts is pretty great- I try to participate. I remind myself that an Act of Kindness does NOT need to be huge- it’s often the small things that make a BIG difference. A smile, a hello, a “how was your weekend?” I am reminding myself to show people that I care.
And lastly, we need to remind everyone that people who are different are just that- different, not less than. A few months ago our school had a talent show and I sang a song about how it’s ok not to be ok- and it was great. A favorite part of the night was the final act; and it’s exactly what I am talking about. Acceptance and encouragement for all.
So EVERY ONE of us has a chance to make this world a tiny bit better- it doesn’t have a be a grand event- small things make difference, too. What will you do to make your little part of the world better?