Not a day goes by where I don't think about the reality that we live in a mass murder society.
There's no way to sugar coat it. I can't do any of the things I normally do in my day-to-day life without, somewhere in the back of my mind, fear creeping in.
I go to work and I panic. Where would I hide if a gunman opened fire in my workplace?
It happened in Annapolis, Maryland, not far from where I grew up. I go to yoga class and I panic. Am I safe with all of these strangers in such a tight space?
The innocent people taking a yoga class in Tallahassee weren't. I go out for a night with my friends and I panic. What would I do if a gunman entered the bar?
It happened at a California country music bar.
It happened at Pulse, in the same city where I live.
I go to class and I panic. If a gunman walked into my small classroom with one door and no windows, I would surely die. It happened at Sandy Hook.
It happened in Parkland, both of my parent's backyards, many of my peer's hometowns, and even my little's current school at the time. While I have ties to many of the recent shootings, something about Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School particularly hit home for me.
My good friends have lost friends, family, even mentors, and experienced tragedy, unlike anything I could possibly comprehend. I'm lucky to not have been directly affected by any shooting, but indirectly, it has changed everything.
How can I one day bring children into a world where I can't be sure I can keep them safe?
No parent wants to bear the responsibility of dealing with the death of a child. Especially, a parent who thinks they are doing the right thing by sending their child to school. The conversation regarding school shootings mainly seems like a back and forth argument between the pro-gun and anti-gun people.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't we prioritize the safety of our people over a petty battle between the respective groups? Don't we all want positive change to come for future generations so they don't have to live a life of fear? Sure, guns might be part of the problem, but there's a lot more to it.
Guns have been around for centuries. This violent culture has not.
Even so, your right to bear arms is outdated; James Madison didn't have gun violence in mind when he wrote the second amendment in 1791, hunny. We have some big problems on our hands, and riding in circles on the gun law merry-go-round isn't going to fix them.
News flash: Healthy people don't murder.
The problem is more than guns. It's not every day that normal, healthy people decide to kill. The people who commit these heinous crimes have deep-rooted issues stemming from their mental health. Mental health needs to continue to be addressed in schools, at home, and in society in general.
Even more than that, we need to foster a more loving and caring society. Schools should be educating students about their own mental health, and understanding each other's differences. Many of these shootings, like at Pulse and the Synagogue, might have been able to be prevented with a little less ignorance and a little more humility.
With the anniversary of Douglass approaching, many of the same emotions I felt on that day and days after are resurfacing.
When I shared some of these feelings with my little, knowing she was at Stoneman Douglass High School on the day the shooting occurred, she was willing to share some of her own experiences with me.
While it is not my story to tell, it has helped me better understand the reality that is gun violence, in schools, at work, at a yoga studio, or even at a bar. Gun violence does not discriminate; it can happen anytime and anywhere to anyone.
I am sad for our generation. I want my future children to be able to live a carefree life as I did when I was younger. I want them to go to school and learn, and play on the playground without fear. I don't want them to be in a constant state of danger. Even worse, I don't want them to experience anything as my little did.
Seventeen of her peers were brutally taken from her as she crouched between rows of chairs in the school's auditorium, including her friend and her coach. How can a seventeen-year-old girl recover from that?
Luckily, my little is the strongest person I know.
Despite everything, she remains an incredible person. Somehow, unbeknown to me, she still has such a positive outlook on life. She has been through so much hardship, and still, is able to take all the hate and turn it into love. She even attended the march in D.C. last year by herself, because that was an opportunity she was given, and she didn't hesitate to take advantage of the chance to take a stand for something important. I could not be more proud of everything she is and everything she's become since that day.
I know it isn't easy, and she will never be able to move on, but she honors the loss from that day with a beautiful piece of art forever marked on her body.
On her forearm is the wing of an angel, with the date 2/14/18, and the number seventeen for remembrance of the victims on that day. She inspires me to be the best version of myself, and speak up about things that I believe in. I encourage you to also promote issues that are meaningful to you.
Gun violence and school safety are two issues that have impacted my life in many ways. I will always support a safer and healthier tomorrow.
And while I'm sad for our present, I'm very hopeful about our future.