Many people all over the world have paused in their workaday worlds to take a breath and comment on the shooting deaths last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. This blogger likewise feels it's appropriate to pause to hear one person's idea about how to radically shift the national conversation -- or lack thereof -- about gun control. Alice Trembour is an early childhood teacher in private education, copy editor of this interview series, and is married to me, the boss blogger-manager.
Rob: The Newtown shooting spree seems to have struck a nerve nationwide, if all the editorials and blogs are representative. As a teacher of young children, what has been your response?
As a teacher, I imagine the scene in the school building, the children's terror and bewilderment, and the brave responses of those children's teachers. I can't help but think the expressions of outrage and cries of "Enough!" are a little hollow now that we've had so many recent incidents of gun violence in the U.S. Even the president's order to fly flags at half-staff feels formulaic and a little rusty. As a human being, I assume most other fellow humans -- including NRA members -- feel horror, anger, and deep frustration over how to keep such events from happening. Some of the frustration comes from going through these emotions and motions over and over again, and nothing changes in who gets access to guns.
So how can we shift the cycle of shooting and outrage, but no action?
What if every family, or most families, in the country, or in one city or county or state, decided not to send their children to school until meaningful change had occurred, or had at least been put into place? I'm suggesting a sort of "general strike" of all school children, led by parents who, quite reasonably, hesitate to send their children into harm's way.
How exactly would this change the current cycle?
Politicians are understandably reluctant to take on this very risky issue, so they will never effect the necessary change. This kind of radical shift has to come from the bottom up -- it has to start with individual families who are now thinking twice about whether it's a good idea to send their children off to school in the morning. Until fairly recently, this was the most natural and secure thing one could do each weekday morning: Everybody gets ready for work and school, and off we go. Only this kind of "bottom up" action could get the attention of those who are responsible for the safety of our children while they're in public areas.
What prompted this idea, exactly?
Well, it occurred to me that, if I still had children in the school system, I'd suddenly be thinking twice about whether I should send them off to school in the morning. I might try to organize at least some kind of mass refusal among local families to send their children to school for a certain period of time. Perhaps it would catch on, and parents in other communities would organize such school absences locally.
Why don't you start this in your community?
As someone who doesn't have children in the system anymore, I don't have a lot of credibility, nor do I have the connections to get this started where I live now. But perhaps people reading this interview who have small children in public schools might be feel inspired to talk about this with other families, to see if this sort of thing could happen.