taking care

this is NOT a drill

Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook,  may be old news, but the story is all too fresh. There have been three more school shootings this week alone. Sadly, all of these incidents make up a mere fraction of the mass shootings that have occurred in the last 18 years. It seems we still haven’t learned, and things certainly haven’y improved. They say if you don’t study history and learn from it you are destined to repeat it. How many shootings of innocent people will it take before our lesson is learned?

In my professional life, I spend at least three days a week in local schools; to date, I have experienced multiple “lock-down” situations. A few have been drills, but one was not. I was confined to the school gym with one of my student employees for a LONG while. We had no idea why we were on lock-down, but together, we sat and waited, not knowing what was really happening. As nervous as I was inside, I had to stay calm and maintain my composure to keep my student calm. It turned out there was no active shooter at the school, BUT there was an armed suspect who had fled from the local police. I’m thankful the police alerted the school and that the administration acted swiftly to keep everyone safe.

The Friday before the shooting in Las Vegas, I was caught at a school during another lock-down. This time I knew that this was only a drill, so I went about my business at the school as if everything was normal. I left the room where I was working to pick up supplies from another area within the school. On my way, I was stopped by a school administrator who reprimanded me for walking down the hallway rather than staying where I was.  At the time, I was so irritated that the drill interfered with the work I was trying to get done. In retrospect, I had taken that drill for granted, I had forgotten what it was like to be in a real lock-down situation. I was annoyed where I should have been grateful for the practice of keeping me out of harm’s way; a “practice” that could potentially save my life.

It seems unbelievable that this is our reality. That churches, schools, concerts, and festivals; places where communities join together, places of revelry and fellowship; have become the backdrop for mass shootings. It does not feel right that my children, husband, family, and friends could be caught in an active-shooter circumstance at any time, on any given day. It is damn frightening to think that these drills COULD, in fact,  turn into real-life situations.  Something has to change. Or perhaps WE have to CHANGE SOMETHING  so these shootings stop happening.

I believe unequivocally that we can make a difference in shaping a safer future. This is not a debate about our second amendment rights, nor is it a dismissal of the numerous responsible gun owners out there. No matter your stance on this issue, we must work TOGETHER to make changes to our gun legislation. It will not be easy, but I am committed to having the tough conversations to pushing us forward. It starts with understanding gained through listening and sharing. I hope you’ll join the dialogue, too.

How many innocent people have to die before we’re willing to have the conversation? To not just speak, but to listen to the other side of the debate…To explore the possibility that things could be better than they are.

Every day there are lives at stake. What will it take for us to change?