Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Things that are hard to write

I keep trying to write other, lighter posts.  But it's not working.  Every time I come up halfway and empty.

What I'm really thinking about is this school shooting.  You know, the latest one.

I don't normally like to engage in issues that are traditionally viewed as political.  Mostly because I'm terrified of conflict, and political issues always come with conflict.

It's easier to ignore it.  To feel sad, for a moment, and then move on.

But I just can't get this out of my head.

Because when we left the States I felt like we were leaving the safe world.  Stepping out into the unknown.  People would ask if Hungary was safe, and we would laugh a little and say, of course, but inside we didn't really know.

I remember the first time Joel left the boys and I alone in the car here.  He had to run into the mall, where we heard there was a T-Mobile.  It wasn't worth lugging the kids out of the car and dragging them around an unknown area, so we stayed put.

I locked the doors almost immediately, eyeing anyone who neared our car suspiciously.  Waiting for any sudden move.  Any unwanted approach.

But it never came.  And three years later, left alone with my children in a car, nearly anywhere in this big European city, I wouldn't so much as glance at a passerby.  I wouldn't lock the doors.  I would sit calmly and wait, just like I did in our small, American town.

I feel safe here.  Of course we lock our doors at night, and are aware of the crimes (mostly theft) happening around us.  But I feel safe.

I feel safe in our home.  In the city.  And, most importantly, I feel safe sending my kids to school every, single day.

I know that we're never truly safe.  That anything can happen.  Any time.  That we can't protect our kids always, even as much as we want to.

And I know we're extra lucky because our school has gates and guards, so I have to think less about the what ifs.  But there are no metal detectors.  No bag inspections.  Nothing to stop a familiar face from stealing his dad's gun and open firing in the cafeteria or library or classroom.

Except that his dad, likely, doesn't have a gun to steal.

Gun laws in Hungary are relatively strict.  Especially compared to the U.S.  Making guns a difficult thing to get ahold of.

And so now, when people ask if Hungary is safe, I respond yes.

But I think to myself, Is the U.S. safe?

Because I wasn't ready to leave.  But now, I'm not sure I'm ready to go back.

I don't want to worry about my kids' safety when I send them to school in the morning.  I already worry about so much.  I worry that they won't have anyone to play with at recess.  That they won't feel smart.  That someone might be mean to them.

I don't want to worry about them not coming home.

It's a terrible thing to think about.  And feels awful to write.  And I understand that the chances are so small.

But they're still too big.

There seems to be a fascination with the heroes of these tragedies.  The people who risk their lives to make it stop.

I think they make us question our own courage.  Our own humanity.  Would we really run towards the shooter, when everyone else is running away?

Probably most of us hope we would, but suspect we wouldn't.  Or maybe that's just me.

Luckily, most of us won't ever face that choice.  But some people face it every day.  The choice to be a hero.  To make it stop, before it can even start.

I hope our next hero doesn't stop a shooting from continuing.  I hope the next hero stops it from happening in the first place.

I hope the next hero comes from Washington.  Or the NRA.

And instead of putting their lives at risk, they put their political beliefs, their public standing, their money at risk.  I hope they tell us our kids are more important.  Our peace of mind is more important.

I can't think of these people as big, heartless monsters who don't care about kids dying.  It just doesn't make sense to me.  Because sure, we're naturally selfish and greedy creatures.  But there's also some good.  And I think the lowest common denominator of that good is that we don't want to see kids die.

No one want to see kids die.  Even if they love their guns and their money.

I have to believe they are convinced that stricter gun laws won't change things.  That it's not about the guns.

But this isn't happening other places.  These tragedies where a kid snaps, grabs a gun from the closest cabinet, walks into a school and ends actual lives.  Ones that we can't get back.

It's certainly not happening with nearly the same frequency in Europe.  And definitely not here.

I was sure after Sandy Hook, everything would change.  But hardly anything changed.  And I think the average person is left feeling more helpless than ever.

Like it's not even worth talking about.

But something tells me it's worth talking about.  That, even if nothing changes, we have to keep talking about it.  For the moms and dads whose kids didn't come home.  If for nothing else.

Because someone has to make this stop.


  1. You dug deep into all of our secret fear. We don't want it to keep happening but someone has figure out to stop it.

    1. Exactly. I just hate to think what else might happen while someone is trying to figure that out.