I don’t live in Uvalde. I live about 50 miles from there, which, in Texas, might as well be next door. Uvalde is where I grocery shop, where I get my nails done, where I’ve sat in the ER.
I’ve been trying to write this for a week. I’ve been trying to put words down to help organize my thoughts but there is no organization. There is no sense or reason or solace. Only rage and grief and excruciating sorrow.
Nineteen children never get to go home for summer break. Never get to start a new school year. Never get to graduate or go to college or fall in love or even find out what kind of people they will become.
Two teachers gave their lives protecting other peoples children. Twenty-one families are destroyed and left to pick up the pieces.
All because another child — yes, child — was struggling. Struggling to find his place in the world. Struggling with his own anger, pain and hopelessness. Struggling to be noticed in a world moving too quickly. So he took his frustrations out on the innocent children at Robb Elementary School. But his anger wasn’t at them. It was at us. All of us.
I hear the phrase, “kids today” over and over, so often with a negative connotation.
I hate to break it to you, but the problem did not come from the kids. The kids were born into a world they had no say in. The kids are growing up in a society they have no control over. The kids are struggling to survive in a culture that blames them for the effects that OUR actions, and lack of action, have caused. All they can do is live in the world we have provided for them. The failures, and there are plenty to go around, are entirely ours. The adults.
There are specific failures on the parts of the schools, the police, the legislatures, the corporations, the special interest groups and the citizens of this country, but I don’t want to assign blame here. There will be plenty of that in the months to come.
I do have a question though. Why can someone go into a store and purchase a gun the day they turn 18 but we have collectively decided that same person needs to be three years more mature before they should be allowed to buy a beer? I don’t have the answer but it is a logic gap in the structure of our laws that I can’t explain.
Those who refuse to acknowledge a problem because it might affect their rights are as much at fault as those hell bent on vilifying anyone that doesn’t agree with them.
There are changes to be made. There are policies to be updated and training to be reevaluated for this new, terrifying world. There is consensus and there is compromise.
I keep coming back to something Anne Frank wrote in her diary in 1944 while the world was literally blowing up around her…
“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
I believe this too. Pure, born with evil is an extreme anomaly. Nature does not often create inherent evil. Nurture does. Environment and circumstances do. Above all, neglect does.
Let us put aside those things that divide us and be the people that Anne Frank had faith in. Be the people that the children of this nation believe in and look to for protection because they have no choice. We’re all they’ve got.