A Teacher is the Opposite of a Gun

1. We’re less than a week out since the most recent school massacre, and I’m avoiding writing. Since last Wednesday, I’ve spent way too much time drilling deep into the comments on Facebook and reading the New York Times.

2. One bad moment looked like this: someone posted an analogy attempting to show that blaming guns for killing people was similar to blaming women for getting raped.

3. It was a ridiculously bad argument, but that wasn’t the worst of it. The man who posted it is an old colleague. He grieved, too, that night at the funeral home when a boy I loved lay in a coffin because he had an adolescent’s degree of impulse control, a breaking heart, and a gun.

4. I don’t have anything rational to add to this conversation. I’ve got random thoughts, and they are tolling like the bells at my church on Sunday morning. One brutal chime for every life.

5. A teacher is the opposite of a gun. I hold this truth to be self-evident.

6. There are two things I’d prefer not to learn about myself:

I am a person who would use my body to protect a child in my care.

I am not a person who would use my body to protect a child in my care.

I can’t see the upside in learning either of these things.

7. It’s 7:55 on Friday morning. I’m standing in Budagher Hall, greeting students as they start another day of school. Across the room by the tech office, three ninth grade girls are sitting on the floor. They are playing with a  puppy. As I look over, the puppy knocks one of the girls onto her back. The puppy, having won this round, leaps onto the student and licks her face. I am smiling. This is school, I think.

8. It’s 8:05 on Friday morning, which means that students are making announcements. The boy who always tells a joke is explaining why people shouldn’t worry about his red eye. It’s allergies, he tells us, nothing contagious. In fact, he explains, as only a seventeen year old could, it’s so safe you could lick his eyeball. I am laughing. This is school, too, I think.

9. It’s 8:10 on Friday morning and I realize the whole high school is assembled in one room. For a second, I am terrified. I think this could be called cognitive dissonance.

10. I don’t have anything else to say on this subject. I ranted about it here in 2013, and I reposted the same essay in 2015. I thought Congress might find it helpful to use my form letter to express their thoughts, prayers, and commitment to leaving our kids in danger.

11. I just remembered I wrote about it one other time here. That time (2014?), a grieving father was telling Congress what they could do with their “thoughts and prayers.”

12. Did you pause for a minute to follow that last link? Here’s something I said in that post that feels important to me now: “Let’s all be careful what we teach the teenagers.”

13. One hopeful thought: a man who donates $600 million dollars to Republicans said his wallet is closed until they fix this insanity.

14. This morning I started wondering who Marjorie Stoneman Douglas was. It turns out, she was an activist. According to NPR, she worked successfully to protect the Everglades from development. Marjorie Stoneman Douglas said, “I’ll tell you the whole thing is an enormous battle between man’s intelligence and his stupidity. ”

15. Another hopeful thought: The teenagers are calling BS. Not for nothing does Emma Gonzales go to a school named after a powerful woman activist. The teenagers are fierce and right and their fighting spirit has been forged in fire. There have been times in history when that has been enough.

16. Only an idiot would have hope that anything will be different this time.

17. Last Wednesday was Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday, and at my school, it was also our “Love Your Mother Earth” climate conference day. At noon Albuquerque time, I was sitting in a gym full of students listening to a climate change activist.

I can’t get his first slide out of my mind. On the top left, it said, “I am overwhelmed.” His point, though, was to move us all toward the bottom right. Here, it said, “We can act.”



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