Are we really gonna sleep through another century
While the rich profit off our blood?
— the prophet ani
I am a newspaper copy editor, so I edit newspaper copy (in case you were wondering about the title.)
As a result, over the years I have waded through a constant barrage of school shootings.
They become a blur over time. Sandy Hook, Columbine, Parkland. My reaction was always to the numbers, not the humanity. Like “25,000 dead in earthquake.” They’re just statistics.
As I scrolled through the endless chronology, I saw one I don’t recall at all: “A gunman took hostages and shot eight out of 10 girls (aged 6-13), killing five before dying by suicide in a Nickle Mines, Pennsylvania, schoolhouse. The West Nickel Mines School was torn down, and a new one-room schoolhouse, the New Hope School, was built at another location.”
Why do I not remember this? Ten girls, aged 6-13. So impossibly sad. The thing is, they were just numbers to me.
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with a miniature human. She’s smart and funny and adorable and wildly creative.
And she’s 8 years old.
I’m off this week, so I haven’t read a lot about the Nashville shooting. But I saw that the kids who died were 9. Nine. Years. Old.
We were talking with her mom about school this week. They have just arrived in our fair state, and she worries about finding the right place for them. I can’t begin to imagine how hard that must be. In addition to diversity and teaching and classroom size and fish sticks, I’m guessing that’s in the back of the mind of every parent waving goodbye to a child every morning. Will I see you again?
As I’m reading the follow-up stories on Nashville, I picture her. How could anyone, no matter how troubled, kill a 9-year-old? What the hell is wrong with us?
They’re not numbers. They’re little people, just like the one who was drawing Miss Mouse this weekend. Even if she DID erase the barista hat.
I remember holding her not long after she was born. She was smaller then, and I mostly worried she would throw up on me. But still. She’s good people. I desperately want her and her equally perfect sister (who is 5 and a HALF, not 5, thank you very much) to live happily ever after. Which would include not getting shot.
I’m not sure I like this feeling. Maybe it’s better just to think of shooting victims in the abstract, a statistic to be added to the endless list of thoughts and prayers. Because nothing will ever be done to fix this, no matter what Ani says.
I don’t know what to do.
Maybe buy a lot more Oreos.
This is EXACTLY why I never had kids. dammit.
It’s a deeply unhelpful comment, I know, but the rest of the world thinks that America is nuts. On the topic of gun control, anyway. That whole ‘from my cold, dead hands’ malarkey just drives normal people insane. And to conflate school shootings with mental health in order to justify having assault rifles for everyone really compounds the tragedy. It’s very troubling, and deeply upsetting. And that’s from across the Atlantic…
Many of us in America think America is nuts. Especially because a majority of Americans wants common-sense gun laws, but we are essentially ruled by a minority.
My state legislature, in its infinite wisdom, just passed a law allowing guns to be carried on college campuses. I’m starting to think about retiring from my college job real soon…