“I want to remind you that our school is and will remain a safe place,” the words of my high school principal echo through my head as I wake up on the morning of October 2nd. They are the words that my principal spoke into the loudspeaker every morning following a terror attack, a school shooting, an irreparable act of hate. It's the words he was forced to speak so many times that the students of our high school have them essentially memorized.
The tragedy of it is almost too much to bear. I was in high school for four years (2012-2016), and in that small time span, there were enough terror attacks for me to know the speech my principal gives by heart. And the saddest part about it all is that we are beginning to become numb; not the tragedy of it, but numb to the shock.
For us, those of us who were toddlers during 9/11, or who were not even born yet, terror attacks are the norm. It is impossible to fathom that there was a time that the world wasn't like this. There there was ever a world where you didn't need to think about the fact that when you wave goodbye to your mom as you walk into school it may be the last time you see her, or that maybe you shouldn't buy that plane ticket to visit your Grandma because the plane may not make it there, or that it might not be worth it to attend the concert of your favorite artist because it may cut your life short.
Each new event brings to the surface old wounds. We become hypnotized with the notion that terror is inevitable, and naturally, we become paralyzed by fear that we could be next. Yet guilt fills our hearts as well, because how can we be thinking about ourselves when there are families who are experiencing grief in it’s ugliest form at the present moment.
But how can we not think about ourselves? Where are we safe?
In Newtown, Connecticut young teachers and students were massacred in the exact place where they expect to be safe. Workplaces are not safe, schools are not safe, marathons are not safe, airplanes are not safe, nightclubs are not safe, concerts are not safe.
We live in imminent danger. My principal was wrong: there is no such thing as a " safe place" any longer.
I hope that one day the students of my high school never again need to hear my principal's solemn tone tell our student body that there are, “precautions in place to make sure that we all remain safe,” And I hope that I do not hope in vain. I hope that as my blood boils at each new horror story of terror that comes our way, those around me feel the same. I hope that together, our generation can find the tools to combat all this ugliness.
I hope that one day my kids cannot even fathom a world in which going to school or going to a concert can possibly be dangerous.