Empower the Children

I don't know about you, but the level of anger, frustration, and noise in our national life is sometimes just too much for me. In order to remain a halfway sane and effective mom and human being, I have to do a lot of breathing and intentional self-care these days. My heart, mind, and spirit can go spinning out of control when I take in too much at once. The shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School were particularly painful, close to home, and an infuriating repeat of a devastating story that citizens of this country have come to experience. I don't want to ever, ever become numb or "used to" this particular narrative. Never.

But what kind of response will I choose this time? After children were slaughtered at Sandy Hook, I blogged. I lit candles and "remembered the names." I also took time to write about my perspective on gun control. My perspective has not changed much. Neither have the laws or safety concerns that I felt so passionately in 2012. After the shooting in Parkland, I posted this article on Facebook to hopefully crack open hearts and minds and begin conversation around the possible stories of people who do the planning and shooting in these tragedies. Like the movie Groundhog Day, we as citizens of the United States live a devastating narrative over and over again.

My daughters are teenagers now. One of them walks into a large public high school every single school day. They have code red lockdown drills regularly to prepare for the possibility of being the next place where things go terribly wrong. Just sitting with that reality elicits pain in my heart and my gut. There has been much discussion in our home around this latest massacre.

"Mom, I promise I will text with you if something like this happens at my school. And if I don't, well I guess that means..." My heart plummeted as I took in these words. I can't even begin to imagine. And yet, that was the real life situation for a number of family members on February 14, 2018. 

On the Sunday after this shooting, our pastor took time during our service, and she read the names of each victim out loud. I had not been able to do that for myself. My daughter stood right next to me. I pulled her toward me. We both shed tears. We needed to grieve together.

On Tuesday, I realized that there was a community march starting at a church and headed down to our state's capitol. I issued an invitation to each of my girls to participate. They both accepted. When we got there and speakers began to passionately tell their stories, I second guessed myself. Is this going to scare them more or empower them? After we participated, I asked each of them my question separately. They each said that it was empowering. One of them is organizing with friends a school walkout on March 14. I will be alongside her on that day. The other told me that of all the issues before us today, this particular issue is the one that she is most passionate about. 


When I get discouraged and overwhelmed by headlines, I am most encouraged by the voices of those who have traditionally not had a strong voice in our culture - women, young people, people of color, and the marginalized of our society. I want to practice listening and tune my ears and heart to this segment of my fellow citizens. I hope that as we empower our children, they will lead us forward.