This morning, people in CT handed their kids their lunches and reminded them to focus and double-check their answers on their science test. Some parents squabbled with their children about uneaten eggs and unreported project due dates. People said "I love you" and waved as their children raced to the bus stop or hopped out of the car in the carpool line.
Many of those parents are going to get phone calls today that their children are dead. Dead.
I don't know how to not be scared all the time. A friend robbed of her jewelry, luckily from her house when she wasn't there. Parking lots at the mall where you have to check in and under your car before you get in. Parties with friends where things get "out of hand" and flirting turns to sexual violence.
And I'm not talking about "bad neighborhoods" or another country or late at night. I'm talking about broad daylight at an elementary school in suburban Connecticut. And no one left to take any responsibility. The gunman is dead. Where does this leave us, as a nation, as a people?
I saw Django Unchained the other night. I closed my eyes as human beings whipped other human beings. I shuttered as one man ordered two others to fight to the death. I put my hands in front of my face, just in case, when a woman is tossed into a room with a bed by two men, evil in their eyes.
But what scared me even more than all of those things is the fact that I was cheering for the death of so many people by the end of that film. That was my visceral response: to kill the bad guys. I am the product of a violent society that hates blindly and seeks revenge over solutions.
No matter how many years go by, no matter how many things change, too many things stay the same -- hate, violence, and fear.
When is it going to stop? When are we going to start listening to each other's stories and clinging to the similarities rather than the differences? When are we going to seek resolution over retaliation? When are we going to all be human and not black or white, rich or poor, Muslim or Christian or Jewish or...
I fear for my own daughter every day when I send her to school. And this is why. I fear also that she will inherit the very same world we live in today where there are too many reasons to fear and not enough reasons to love. We have to talk about gun control, regardless of what side you're on. We have to talk about education and reproductive rights and minimum wage and taxes that so widen the disparity between the haves and have-nots, that have nearly become two separate peoples despite being exactly the same.
"There but for the grace of God go I," I think when I see a woman standing in the rain begging for money on a street corner. She wins the lottery, suddenly she's "better" than me. But for now, she's throwaway of society. Change her skin from brown to white and the assumption is that she and her husband were laid off and their house was foreclosed on. What a shame, we say. So sad, we whisper. But what do we assume if "minority" is the label with which she is branded?
We are an unhappy people. We are an insecure people. We are a desperate people. But it doesn't have to be. It's possible for love and joy to prevail. But it's going to require a little common sense. People who make more have to pay more taxes. All children deserve the best education regardless of their address. Men have no rights to or over women's bodies. Violence only begets violence. Everyone needs access to safe affordable medical care. Everyone must be allowed to control their own reproductive rights.
We are the same, you and I. Whoever you are reading this, think what you will. But if you set aside ego and a legacy of hate, if you set aside assumptions and allow science to take its rightful place over belief, if you remind yourself of the unwavering separation of church and state, if you leave your prejudice at the door, you will see, you and I are the same. We were born of a mother and we long for acceptance. We are full of possibility and we are fragile of heart. We are only as good as the society we create for ourselves to live in.
We are the same, you and I. And the only thing that can save us now is change.