Millennial Life: The Questions of Freedom
My son apologized for not being part of the planning committee in his first-grade class. During the lockdown, some of the others gathered together to decide what they would do if the shooter came into their classroom, and how they might be able to fight back. My son told me he had sat holding hands with another little girl and cried instead.
A few days later, a couple of moms talked about it at a meet-up at the school. Some parents were part of law enforcement, and we suspected the students had copied what they had heard their parents talk about at home. We also suspected that there was an abundance of overeager martial artists in our class.
That said, even those parents who had access to a police scanner and heard mention of their kids' school couldn't help but come down to try and help as the situation had already resolved itself. A man had walked by the school carrying a rifle. It was his right. But it unleashed questions that are hard to answer.
My daughter, who had been in the cafeteria, had been scooped up by an administrator and taken into an office with her classmates. She had been tucked under an office desk with one of her crying best friends. She told me that when she saw a friend hyperventilating, she pulled him into her spot so he'd be safe.
It's an instinct of care that takes my breath away. Thinking that I might need to tell her not to give up her safety for that of someone else suffocates me. How do I tell my daughter to give up that instinct? How do I tell my son not to be ashamed of his fear?
I feel both anger that comes in waves and washes up against the shores of impotence. This isn't something we can answer or fix at the local level, as much as I believe in local government being able to make change that affects daily lives.
However, we can work at ways to connect a community so that there is less chance of someone becoming a shooter. It's making sure that students don't fall through the cracks through juvenile division programs that act as the tribes we no longer have. It's clearing out mental health stigmas and providing free and widely available resources. It's about understanding that productivity does not equal the value of a human, and if some people, due to trauma or disability, cannot be productive in the traditional sense, we do not cast them out of society.
For me, it's surrendering to the idea that any fix will be too late for my children. They will have a childhood memory of active shooter drills, as I remember tornado drills. We can't fix everything overnight, or in four years. But we can change plenty of things if we come together as a community and debate if this is what freedom looks like for our children.
======== Cassie McClure is a writer, millennial, and unapologetic fan of the Oxford comma. She can be contacted at email@example.com. To find out more about Cassie McClure and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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