Take a Hike – Acts of Resistance in a So-Called “Increasingly Violent” World

There is still peace in the world, but it's not on your iphone.

 

Is it possible to mourn a tragedy, fight for gun control and mental health access, and manage our own fears and terror without concluding the world is a dangerous place and passing that fear on to our kids?  Yes.  And as parents, we have no choice.  We have to find that balance.  Otherwise, we are the ones creating that terrible, dangerous world.  Our kids are looking to us to understand what is dangerous and what isn’t, and to teach them to determine when to take risks and when to be cautious.  If we teach them that the world is full of evil people seeking to harm them, we are not only giving them false information, we are robbing them of a full life.

A horrific, unfathomable tragedy occurred in Newtown, Connecticut this month.  For me, when those children go through my mind, they all have the faces of my precious twins.   My maternal instinct tells me to lock the doors, close the shades, batten down the hatches, and teach my children to be afraid.  That is the world we live in, right?  Don’t talk to strangers, stay inside, don’t touch that, you can’t go in there, you never know, use hand sanitizer, abstinence only, better safe than sorry.

I can’t say how frequently I hear parents musing longingly about how they used to play outside all day from morning until night, left to their own devices to manage relationships with other kids, explore, solve problems, and make their own fun without parental supervision.  When I hear these things I’m always puzzled.  If these parents know how good this was for them, why don’t they let their children do the same?  But before I can even respond, I hear the inevitable, “But this is a different world… you just can’t do that anymore.”   Where did we get this idea, and who is benefitting from it?  Certainly not our kids.

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A Newtown Every Three Days – Race, Class and Gun Violence

Close your eyes.  Picture Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.  We all have an image in our minds of innocent, white children in a quiet, middle class suburb being suddenly, and horrifically exposed to gun violence.  Now close your eyes again.  Picture the same scene, but this time the children are black.  What do you imagine our national reaction would be to this tragedy?

Now close your eyes again and picture 20 black children who have been exposed to gun violence all their lives being killed one by one in the cross-fire of all-too-familiar neighborhood violence in an inner-city setting over the course of three days.  What do you imagine our national reaction would be?  Wait.  We know what our national reaction would be, because this scene, like the first scene in Newtown, has actually happened.  It is happening right now, to approximately one child or teen EVERY THREE HOURS.  That means a Newtown EVERY 3 DAYS in America!

So what is our national reaction?  Our national reaction is nothing.  No media frenzy, no demands for better security, for arming principals, no calls for tighter gun control, no focus on mental health access, no conclusions that the world is a dangerous and cruel place, no tears from our half-black president, no frenzy of blogs, no discussions on listservs, no terrified white parents trembling as they drop their children off at school, no mental health professionals scurrying to assist grieving parents in explaining these events, no discussion of post-traumatic stress.

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Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Lyla Cicero