I remember exactly where I was when I found out about the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. I was leaving my apartment with a trash bag.
I had a doctor’s appointment, so I figured I would take out the trash on the way to my car. I ran into a janitor I saw but never talked to. He was nice, I knew that. He held the door open for me and said his first words ever to me, “Did you hear there was another school shooting?”
My reaction wasn’t what people (or myself) would expect. Reactions towards tragic events like these exist on scales of anger and sadness. It’s normal to feel one of these emotions or a combination.
I felt numb.
He kept talking, but I didn’t stay around to talk about the horrible tragedy with him. I slowly walked down the stairs with the goal of throwing out the trash and going to my appointment. As I walked down, he kept talking. He was saying that they had gotten the shooter. He was saying how many were injured at that time. He was saying just how tragically common these events have come to be.
And I just felt numb.
I won’t go in depth into my major, but I plan to teach high school English after I graduate. My classes teach me best practices for teaching, they teach me how to accommodate for all of my students. They teach me how I can incorporate certain books into my classes, they give me an opportunity to practice teaching. They do not teach me how to handle a shooter coming into a school and threatening my kids and myself.
I am lucky to be in the presence of teachers and education majors every single day. They are unquestionably some of the most caring and passionate people. The teachers I knew growing up (both in my family and in school) made me want to be a teacher.
Now, here I am, and I am scared. I’m not scared that I won’t be a good teacher. No.
I’m scared that one of the teachers I care about will go to school one day and not come back. I’m scared that I will go to school one day and not come back.
Because these things happen everywhere. They happen everywhere, and they happen too much. It should be considered absurd that school shootings are in the double digits, not even two months into 2018. It doesn’t just happen in big cities or in small towns. They happen everywhere.
And no one thinks of it until it happens.
I did not address the myriad of issues that come with school shootings. Mental health awareness, gun control reform, who’s to blame. I did not address those issues because it is not my place to, I do not, at this time, understand enough myself to thoughtfully discuss them. I’m trying to learn. And honestly, I am still working on wrapping my head around everything. A school shooting shouldn’t be something to just get over.
What bothers me is that I felt numb when I heard about it. Desensitized to something serious because we hear it happening so often. It’s not a surprise anymore. It’s a tragedy and mourn but then the conversation changes. Something else happens that gets people’s attention more. We’re all becoming desensitized. And that is a problem.
Before you go to bed, think of the victims. Think of their families. Remember the victims. Remember that they will always be that age. They’re never going to go to college. They’re never going to grow up.
We can do better. And I will do everything in my power to make change.