It was the prevalence of guns in the US that worried me most about venturing to a new country for college. It kept me up in the night with fright. I would awake feeling “Don’t shoot — I’m Canadian!” burning through my body. Somehow I felt that being from a peaceful culture would protect me from the insanity of the gun toting culture in which I was about to immerse myself.
I never dreamed I’d be more than just a temporary visitor in this world. I didn’t know I’d live here, that when I’d teach in the schools I would see my students taken away in handcuffs, that I would hide my class in the corner behind the bookshelf during a lockdown, that I would send my own children to public schools in an age when people talk of arming the school staff. How could I possibly have imagined such a world? This is unthinkable stuff for such an evolved society. I weep at this very moment for my own loss of innocence and the current climate of this country. I want my 18 year old self to never know these pains. I want my own children to never know these horrors.
Many point to these events as the reason for homeschooling. Perhaps it is a valid reason for them but I am compelled to be a force for change in the face of fear. Shootings happen everywhere, not just in the schools. Over the past six months I have felt strongly that my family belongs in public school in part because we need to learn compassion and we need to demonstrate optimism, hope, and love. Those who are at risk for performing desperate acts are those most in need of help. What hope is there for the next generation if the happy, healthy families all remove themselves from the community schools? Who will demonstrate a better way to live? Who will reach out with love? When unthinkable things happen and my facebook feed erupts with [sometimes quite self-righteous] exclamations of “this is why I homeschool!” my soul bleeds. We should not be bickering between each other to justify the personal decisions we have made for our personal situations, we should be working together to heal these wounds and create a better world. As many if you know i have yearned to homeschool. The more I prayed the more I felt that schools need to be saved and that my family belongs in public schools. I would have fun homeschooling, and I am sure I’m capable of the job, but I need to expand my focus to more than just my two precious boys and make a difference in their lives as well as in the lives of their classmates. We need to demonstrate love and service and compassion to all. That is our calling.
Returning to the guns, I still cling to my strong feelings on the subject. I know they are not shared by everyone, even my husband and I do not see the subject the same. He tells me they are fun to shoot and that he could see himself owning one at some point. I hear “fun to shoot” as making a game out of killing, and it is not a game. While we see this issue differently we are both respectful of each other, and I believe we are both right. Pacifism is not for everyone but I would not be true to myself if I abandoned it. Just as a good soup requires multiple ingredients, a healthy relationship requires multiple perspectives.
I have friends who are avid hunters. I don’t ask, but I hope they use every part of the animal, and that they are respectful and grateful to the soul that gave it’s body for their food and their sport. Certainly there is a place for hunting in our society. Do I consider it a sport? No, but I respect it’s place in a responsible society.
I have friends who have armed themselves to protect themselves and their property. I don’t ask, but I hope they have followed all the appropriate safety procedures, in addition to the legal ones. They are within their constitutional right to own such things even though I will not, and I struggle to understand the desire. I will never own a gun. I will never shoot a gun. I hope to never hold a gun. I could never shoot another being. Many feel it’s important for their self-defense but I see it as a sure way to escalate a situation and ensure carnage.
I could never live with the grief of knowing I had taken another life, no matter how depraved. I would rather be shot than shoot, at least I’d go with a clear conscience. This is to say nothing of the countless accidental shootings. I could not handle the guilt of knowing that something I owned, even if I hadn’t pulled the trigger, had taken a life. I do not believe that we will create a greater society with more guns. I believe we need more education, more compassion. I believe we need to teach and practice tolerance. I believe we all need better coping mechanisms. Yes, I believe we need to take a much more invested look at mental health. If we can improve the lives of all our neighbours we can reduce our risks without holing ourselves up in a panic room and hiding from the world. We shouldn’t have to live in fear, but more guns doesn’t solve the underlying problem, and while it takes away the fear of some, it creates a greater fear in others.
This is not the world I want for my children. If I want a world of peace I need to demonstrate peace. I think we owe it to our children.