My boys were home sick from school on the day that 26 children and elementary school staff were murdered in Newtown, Conn., and Ive never been so happy to have them home with me.
It could have very easily happened here. It could have been me, or you, running breathlessly to the school, begging God to protect our babies, millions of what ifs and panic pumping through our veins. It could have been any of us.
This horror is real.
Over the past few days Ive wept and surreptitiously watched the reports out of view of my little boys, trying to glean any nugget of wisdom to answer to why this happened. And why it keeps happening, and why we arent doing anything about it. Mass shootings have become so commonplace that they barely register anymore, until small children are involved.
Why arent we outraged that open season has been declared on all of us?
The subjects of gun control (Ill never again think its OK for civilians to own them) and mental health management (we need more and better-our system is obviously broken), the downfall of our culture (I dont think our culture is any more corrupt than any other culture in history. We just happen to live in a time that information permeates our existence in such a way that we have become unwitting slaves to it) have all been volleyed and blamed.
Those things are going to take a long time to change, and Im terrified that before those changes come these atrocities will continue.
It has come to a time when I am Googling Is it better to tell my child to run or to hide when they see someone shooting? and wondering if my sons teachers would be willing to take a bullet for him and his classmates. My heart is breaking for those families in Newtown, and at the same time, I feel helpless and numb, terrified and angry. Im mad at myself and everyone else for being silent, insulated cowards. Im tired of telling my kindergartner that bad guys with sick brains are killing people.
And I guess thats the problem. Im afraid well all be shattered and indignant for a little while, but the myriad of tasks to be completed, bills to be paid, and the challenges of daily life will lull us back into thinking our children are safe until it happens again. The anniversaries of these events will keep going by and a little blurb on the news might pique a glimmer of the pain we are feeling right now, but nothing will change. So Im begging us all (including myself) to contact our political representatives, to rally and demand the change we so desperately need. I dont know how if anything will come from that, but I do know I dont want to live in a place where a gun is easier to get than mental health is.
If we dont demand it, Im afraid these murders will continue to steal our freedom.
Tricia Oakes is a resident of Fort Mill. Her Yo, Mama! column typically appears monthly in the People & Places section of the Fort Mill Times. Email her at email@example.com.