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  • Writer's pictureeschaden

Uvalde On My Mind...

I had no words, only tears. Only sad, gut wrenching, heart rendering tears full of loss and sorrow and anger. I am devastated removed. I can only allow the loss and heartbreak to permeate my own life and heart with a small hope that my willingness to let myself fully feel the loss and sadness of others, relieves their pain and devastation if only a little.

I spent time the other morning taking a moment to look at the photos of all the people killed in Uvalde. Their lives taken in another senseless act of violence. How one person can hate themselves so much that they would do just almost, almost unimaginable. But it isn’t. Unimaginable. It happened. Again. And again. And again.

And then I found the words...

Uvalde will not be the last. We all know this. Some whack job will have a resentment, or delusion, or axe to grind or perhaps more befitting today’s vernacular: an AK to unload. This is the world we live in. This is us. This is who we are.

There are millions of posts on social media. There are scores of petitions to sign. There are lots of people upset and devastated and grieving. But this will not change all of the lives lost.

Take a look at this list:

Thurston High School. (1988)

Columbine High School. (1999)

Heritage High School. (1999 - one month to the day after Columbine). (6 wounded)

Deming Middle School. (1999). (1 dead)

Fort Gibson Middle School. (1999) (5 wounded)

Buell Elementary School.

Lake Worth Middle School.

University of Arkansas.

Junipero Serra High School.

Santana High School.

Bishop Neumann High School.

Pacific Lutheran University.

Granite Hills High School.

Lew Wallace High School.

Martin Luther King, Jr. High School.

Appalachian School of Law.

Washington High School.

Conception Abbey.

Benjamin Tasker Middle School.

University of Arizona.

Lincoln High School.

John McDonogh High School.

Red Lion Area Junior High School.

Case Western Reserve University.

Rocori High School.

Ballou High School.

Randallstown High School.

Bowen High School.

Red Lake Senior High School.

Harlan Community Academy High School.

Campbell County High School.

Milwee Middle School.

Roseburg High School.

Pine Middle School.

Essex Elementary School.

Duquesne University.

Platte Canyon High School.

Weston High School.

West Nickel Mines School.

Joplin Memorial Middle School.

Henry Foss High School.

Compton Centennial High School.

Virginia Tech.

Success Tech Academy.

Miami Carol City Senior High School.

Hamilton High School.

Louisiana Technical College.

Mitchell High School.

E.O. Green Junior High School.

Northern Illinois University.

Lakota Middle School.

Knoxville Central High School.

Willoughby South High School.

Henry Ford High School.

University of Central Arkansas.

Dillard High School.

Dunbar High School.

Hampton University.

Harvard College.

Larose-Cut Off Middle School.

International Studies Academy.

Skyline College.

Discovery Middle School.

University of Alabama.

DeKalb School.

Deer Creek Middle School.

Ohio State University.

Mumford High School.

University of Texas.

Kelly Elementary School.

Marinette High School.

Aurora Central High School.

Millard South High School.

Martinsville West Middle School.

Worthing High School.

Millard South High School.

Highlands Intermediate School.

Cape Fear High School.

Chardon High School.

Episcopal School of Jacksonville.

Oikos University.

Hamilton High School.

Perry Hall School.

Normal Community High School.

University of South Alabama.

Banner Academy South.

University of Southern California.

Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Apostolic Revival Center Christian School.

Taft Union High School.

Osborn High School.

Stevens Institute of Business and Arts.

Hazard Community and Technical College.

Chicago State University.

Lone Star College-North.

Cesar Chavez High School.

Price Middle School.

University of Central Florida.

New River Community College.

Grambling State University.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ossie Ware Mitchell Middle School.

Ronald E. McNair Discovery Academy.

North Panola High School.

Carver High School.

Agape Christian Academy.

Sparks Middle School.

North Carolina A&T State University.

Stephenson High School.

Brashear High School.

West Orange High School.

Arapahoe High School.

Edison High School.

Liberty Technology Magnet High School.

Hillhouse High School.

Berrendo Middle School.

Purdue University.

South Carolina State University.

Los Angeles Valley College.

Charles F. Brush High School.

University of Southern California.

Georgia Regents University.

Academy of Knowledge Preschool.

Benjamin Banneker High School.

D. H. Conley High School.

East English Village Preparatory Academy.

Paine College.

Georgia Gwinnett College.

John F. Kennedy High School.

Seattle Pacific University.

Reynolds High School.

Indiana State University.

Albemarle High School.

Fern Creek Traditional High School.

Langston Hughes High School.

Marysville Pilchuck High School.

Florida State University.

Miami Carol City High School.

Rogers State University.

Rosemary Anderson High School.

Wisconsin Lutheran High School.

Frederick High School.

Tenaya Middle School.

Bethune-Cookman University.

Pershing Elementary School.

Wayne Community College.

J.B. Martin Middle School.

Southwestern Classical Academy.

Savannah State University.

Harrisburg High School.

Umpqua Community College.

Northern Arizona University.

Texas Southern University.

Tennessee State University.

Winston-Salem State University.

Mojave High School.

Lawrence Central High School.

Franklin High School.

Muskegon Heights High School.

Independence High School.

Madison High School.

Antigo High School.

University of California-Los Angeles.

Jeremiah Burke High School.

Alpine High School.

Townville Elementary School.

Vigor High School.

Linden McKinley STEM Academy.

June Jordan High School for Equity.

Union Middle School.

Mueller Park Junior High School.

West Liberty-Salem High School.

University of Washington.

King City High School.

North Park Elementary School.

North Lake College.

Freeman High School.

Mattoon High School.

Rancho Tehama Elementary School.

Aztec High School.

Wake Forest University.

Italy High School.

NET Charter High School.

Marshall County High School.

Sal Castro Middle School.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Great Mills High School

Central Michigan University

Huffman High School

Frederick Douglass High School

Forest High School

Highland High School

Dixon High School

Santa Fe High School

Noblesville West Middle School

University of North Carolina Charlotte

STEM School Highlands Ranch

Edgewood High School

Palm Beach Central High School

Providence Career & Technical Academy

Fairley High School (school bus)

Canyon Springs High School

Dennis Intermediate School

Florida International University

Central Elementary School

Cascade Middle School

Davidson High School

Prairie View A & M University

Santa Fe High School

Altascocita High School

Central Academy of Excellence

Cleveland High School

Robert E. Lee High School

Cheyenne South High School

Grambling State University

Blountsville Elementary School

Holmes County, Mississippi (school bus)

Prescott High School

College of the Mainland

Wynbrooke Elementary School

UNC Charlotte

Riverview Florida (school bus)

Second Chance High School

Carman-Ainsworth High School

Williwaw Elementary School

Monroe Clark Middle School

Central Catholic High School

Jeanette High School

Eastern Hills High School

DeAnza High School

Ridgway High School

Reginald F. Lewis High School

Saugus High School

Pleasantville High School

Waukesha South High School

Oshkosh High School

Catholic Academy of New Haven

Bellaire High School

North Crowley High School

McAuliffe Elementary School

South Oak Cliff High School

Texas A&M University-Commerce

Sonora High School

Western Illinois University

Oxford High School

Robb Elementary School

Did you even read the names of the schools? Do any of us remember one name of someone who died there? One. Name. I don’t. And I am ashamed of that.

May 21, 1988. Four dead, two dozen wounded.

Mikael Nickolauson

Ben Walker

Bill Kinkel

Faith Kinkel

The shooter killed his own parents. Parents he loved. That loved him back.

Columbine happened April 20, 1999. Thirteen dead. More than 20 wounded.

Were there school shootings before May 21st 1988? I am sure there were. We just don’t hear about them. Why? Is it because the media wasn’t paying attention? Was it because we didn’t see it as an epidemic? Has the world just gotten worse and worse since May 21, 1988?

Yes. Yes it has.

But there were shootings and threats of shootings before 1988. I know. I will get to that in a minute...

My daughter said to me the other day:

“I am really not all that excited about my future. Society sucks. And I have little hope about the future.”

She is 15.

This is her world. This is the world she and all her peers live in. A world where there is no safety. Not at school. Not on the way to school. Not at home. No safety.

Perhaps the world has never been safe. But I grew up at least feeling safe, sometimes. I mean I worried about someone kidnapping me off the street. Someone breaking into my home and raping and killing me. I thought about these things because they happened to people I knew, people who lived in my community. But I didn’t ever walk into any school I ever attended and think about where the exits were. Where the windows were and whether I could escape if I needed to. I am not sure I would have gone to school if I had to think like that...really. I do not know that I would have been able to withstand that kind of pervasive anxiety every single day.

What are we asking of our teachers? Seriously, they have to walk into their classrooms every day and teach? While dealing with kids that aren’t really all that interested in learning. While helping kids whose life circumstances make it hard to learn. Poverty. Hunger. Abuse. Addiction. They have to deal with that every day. And now, now we are asking them to jump in front of bullets to save the children who were brave enough to come to school that day? Really? What the actual fuck is wrong with us?

So teachers are being asked to show up at work, to teach, to counsel, to help, and now to possibly die? All for peanuts compared to what people who work in far less dangerous professions? I mean firefighters and police get paid more. Military professionals get paid hazardous duty pay because even our government thinks you should get paid more when you are being asked to risk your life every day.

But not our teachers. Not our kids. They just are expected to show up every day, risk everything while trying to learn or teach something. And for that, they get killed. Murdered. Cut down in their lives, leaving gaping, unfillable holes in the life fabric of their families and friends and society at large.

Who is going to fill the shoes of the fallen? Who is being raised up to do this work? Who is going to take this on? And what is their level of sanity if they do? I wouldn’t do it. Not one single day. Not on a dare. Not ever. I do not even want to send my kids to school anymore. Not because I don’t value it, but because I value them being alive more.

I want my children to get an education. All of the education. I just don’t want them to have to risk their lives to get it. But that is where we are. No one is safe. It can and does happen anywhere. Blue states. Red states. All the states.

Do you ever wonder why we don’t hear about this in other countries? Is this not happening in China? Brazil? Canada? Europe? If it is, why don’t we hear about it? Because it isn’t happening there. It is happening here, in the fucking “free world” where not one us is free. Not even our 10 year olds, in 4th fucking grade. I mean what in the fuck could they have ever done in this world to deserve this fate? Nothing. Absofuckinglutely nothing. They are just the children caught in the crossfire of the meltdown of our society. The lunatic fringe that isn’t all that fringe anymore and appears to be getting crazier by the second. It is commonplace. How can you look at that list and not see the commonplace?

This is our reality. This is the world that our children are inheriting. Everything instantly, including gunfire at school. Our kids talk about active shooter situations. They discuss who they think would mostly likely be the one to “do it”. I am around my teens. I hear their conversations. They talk about this.

I wish that this would be the place that I turn a corner and offer up some brilliant solution. Most articles I read, now blame the NRA and gun nuts for this and all shootings. But really, are they the ones at the schools shooting them up? Even President Biden blamed them. But here is what I know for absolute sure: That until you deal with what is causing a person to want to mass murder people, gun control falls short too. I mean, if you are motivated, you can and will get a gun. Gun laws might be in order and great. But seriously, if you think that a waiting period and background check is going to stop a person who is hellbent on shooting up the school, you are wrong. Really, really wrong.

They can and will steal a gun(s). I mean it would help if they are not fucking everywhere. Apparently there is a town in Montana where the head of the household is required to have a gun. Like it is a law. So if I live in that town, or any town really, I can get a gun. Likely a whole lot of guns if I am motivated to do so. And having tighter gun control laws might help, but they will not stop someone who is motivated by delusion, hate, anger, rage, mental illness or the like from shooting up our schools, killing our children and their teachers. The guns are not the problem...really.

As a liberal, I know what I am saying is going to be unpopular. But I do not believe that if we had the tightest gun control laws in the world that it will stop what is happening in America today. It is us. Our societal fabric is the issue. We the people are the problem. The world we created, the world we live in, has to change if we want the end the senseless violence, the mass murder of our most innocent and giving citizens...children and teachers.

I am mourning the loss of people I do not know. People I have not met. People whose lives have never intersected mine, until now. I can do nothing really to help, to make their pain less painful, their grief, less grievous. I can only sit in quiet contemplation and work through my own anger, my own hatred and prejudice. My own shit, so that I do not add more fuel to the societal fire of mass shootings, hatred and death.

I do not want to add any more fuel to the fire. I want instead to love. To love and be a productive, kind member of this crazy fucking world. It is all that we have. And I am going to do everything I can to make it better, not worse.

That is all I can do. Well, and also not own a gun so that I am not adding to this, if they break into my house, they will get nothing that is useful to kill lots of people at one time. Nothing. Unless you have some sort of ability to turn goats, cats and dogs into weapons of mass destruction.

I support gun control. I support changing society so that the maladjusted is not so easily armed. But I am not a fool that believes that even with the above that it will stem the tide of violence. We are getting worse, not better. And until we do something about that, the violence will not stop and our kids, our kids will pay, with their lives. Make no mistake about that.

I went to my town’s 8th grade promotion last night to see a friend’s daughter play in the band. I sat there and watched our local kids and educators promote these kids from 8th grade to high school. And I thought about active shooters the entire time. When I parked on campus. When I walked across the parking lot to the football stadium. When I sat down in the bleachers. When I watched the ceremony. When the confetti guns went off with a celebratory bang, I located the sound with alarm and concern, and well, fear. I looked for things that were off, things that were incongruent. When we left, and crossed the field with all the kids and families embracing and smiling and feeling uplifted. I thought about it the whole time.

I wonder how many other people thought about it. As I was walking to my car, I remembered something that I had hidden away in my memory. Something that came rushing back...when I graduated high school in 1987, one of my classmates was apprehended in the parking lot with a handgun. His mother found a receipt for a handgun and a list of people he was going to kill at graduation. She called the police. He was apprehended and no one was hurt. He had a handgun, not an assault rifle. This was 1987. Before Thurston and Columbine. It didn’t make the news. My classmate was taken to a mental health facility where he received treatment for many years. I do not know where he is now. But I thought of him last night. I thought of how West Springfield High School could have been at the very top of the list I just published...

And so my feeling of distanced removal from the horrors of the Robb Elementary School shooting, isn’t distanced. It isn’t removed. It is part of my own story, albeit a totally different ending. I grew up in a different time and place. One where the student had a handgun, not an assault rifle. One where the police were not afraid to engage. One where one parent’s willingness to make a horrific call, saved lives. And our graduation ceremony continued as planned. No shooting. But not without tragedy. We were missing a classmate. One who hated himself so much that I believe he tried to kill himself several times our senior year. And then in a seemingly last ditch effort, tried to take some of us with him at graduation.

School shootings are not happening to other people in other locations. They are happening everywhere, all the time. How many people reading this will have a near miss story too? How many shootings are stopped before they happen? Who is keeping track of that?

My heart breaks for all the families. All the teachers. All the school administrators who show up on a treacherous landscape everyday. I spent one evening gathered in my little tiny town and I felt unsafe. I felt worried. I felt sad. I went anyway. I went because supporting my friend and her daughter was important to me. I went because I refuse to live life afraid to engage. Afraid to live. But I would like to point out, that perhaps all of us could take just a minute to reflect on this is now likely the idea, the thought, the feelings that our kids, teachers and school administrators show up with every single day. Praying a prayer every day that today won’t be the day. Because we all know now, that it isn’t if, it is when.

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