Please Don’t Do This

I’ve been watching and listening to the talk on TV, radio and social media, and I felt compelled to write this.  Please share if you agree.  If you don’t agree, you have my thoughts and prayers.

I want to live in a world where everyone feels so safe that we have no need of guns or bombs or nuclear weapons.  I want the owners of handguns and assault rifles to want to turn in their weapons because they realize it is their patriotic duty to disarm so our community will be safer.  This is what I want.

I realize of course that you may be rolling your eyes and telling me I sound naive.  Please know that I am aware that this is an idealistic vision that I generally share only with my closest friends, fellow dreamers, poets and spiritual seekers.  When I contact my elected representatives, I speak of assault weapon bans and enhanced background checks.  I know how (so-called) reality works.  But I think it’s important to maintain a vision of what we truly want.  Not what we think may be merely possible, but what we truly truly want, even if it seems impossible–because–why not?  As a friend of mine saw on a T shirt years ago and related to me:  we may not reach the stars, but we guide our ships by them.

I have become very very upset by all this talk about arming teachers.  I spent my 30-year career teaching mainly in elementary schools.  I’m retired now so this won’t affect me directly.  Nonetheless, the possibility of this has disturbed me on a visceral level.  I feel the way I did when the Trump-pussy video was released.  I feel personally violated by this idea.  I’m sure there are many reasonable people who may think it would be smart to allow people who have experience and training with fire arms to carry concealed guns on campus.  Certainly, they argue, it would be smart to allow your retired military personel, your ribbon-winning marksmen, your ROTC instructors to carry weapons.  It’s a reasonable precaution, they argue.  But I say no.  I can give you logical reasons why I oppose this; logical reasons to oppose this are all over Facebook this week.  But right now I’m not going to be logical.  Right now I’m writing from the heart.

I’m very scared this is going to happen.  Little by little, different school districts, different campuses will give in.  It will just seem easier not to resist any more.  The stakes are too high.  And pretty soon, at nearly every campus, somebody–maybe it will be a secret, or maybe they’ll be designated by a special badge or uniform–but somebody, or several somebodies–will be armed.  It will become normal.  That will be the new normal.  Armed teachers to protect our children.  Guns on campus to protect our children.  Because our politicians are too spineless to stand up to the NRA.  That will be the new normal.

Every teacher who picks up a gun and straps on a holster takes us one step away from the ideal vision of a land where we feel safe.  Where we feel safe because we trust each other.  Not because we are afraid of each other, but because we trust each other.

I attended Catholic School in an era where I sat quietly and didn’t complain or question my teachers because those nuns scared the hell out of me.  I was attracted to teaching because I wanted to do it differently.  In special education for decades I was an advocate for non aversive behavior management techniques.  No, smartie, that doesn’t mean I just bribed my kids, but okay, I did some of that. Primarily I worked to teach them how to express their needs and desires, their anger and their sadness in ways that were socially acceptable, with patience and  with kindness.  This is what I devoted my life to.  This is what I am fighting for now when I say, please, don’t do this.  Don’t arm teachers.

Please join me in this fight.  We will fight with our words.  We will fight with respect for our opponents, with patience and kindness.  These will be our weapons.  If you think I am naive, if you think I am unreasonable, that’s fine.  I send you my thoughts and prayers.


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