I told him I loved him. I told him he needed to be good at school and on the bus. Listen to his teacher and the bus driver. Then I pushed the fear out of my heart and mind, straightened my spine said a silent prayer to God for his safe return.
“Have a good day today, baby, and I’ll see you tonight,” I said.
My husband said to me last night, after the school district sent out phone messages about the safety of the children, “Do you want to keep him home for the week?”
Without hesitation, I said, “No, he needs to go to school.”
If you’re asking why, why would this woman in light of all that has happened not hesitate to send her most precious gift to school? The simple answer: Bad things happen every day to good people.
As an Type-A control freak, I know that I cannot control every situation, every outcome, every scenario. I know the harder that I try, the more out of control I feel.
But I also know I cannot keep the boy in a bubble for the rest of his life.
Let me first say this: I believe in the first and second amendments to the Constitution. I will defend them with every fiber of my being to the extent for which they were written. That being said, we are all to blame for the problems in our society and the tragedy that unfolded before our eyes on Friday.
We are an angry society, angrier and angrier by the day. We yell. We solve problems with fists. We tailgate. We are self-important — only worried about what we have, how we feel and what we want.
We rip each other to shreds over sports games. We applaud critics’ reviews — the nastier the better. We listen to political pundits whose only job is to be nasty. We clamor for it, wanting more, more, more.
We insult each other on social media if we don’t like what someone writes or tweets. We believe that if someone thinks a different way than us, they’re wrong. We play video games that are so real, that encourage us to kill others. We watch movies that glorify sex, drugs, violence and anti-social behavior.
We watch news shows 24/7, 365 days a year — sensationalized news, opinions in the form of news. We revel in the facts of celebrities’ lives. We buy magazines that chase down these “celebrities” so that we know all the things that they are doing right and wrong, when their marriage breaks up or they develop an eating disorder. We tune into reality TV and give ratings to shows that encourage fighting.
We blur the line between make believe and reality. But when something really, really horrid happens, we ask “Why?” “How?” We place blame. We defend our civil liberties. We argue. We scream. We stomp our feet and get on our soapboxes to debate.
But you can’t even call it that anymore. It’s no longer a debate when you stop listening to the other side.
You, me, the guy down the street, television, radio, newspapers, magazines, politicians, Internet, social media, we are all to blame.
What? Not me! Not in my backyard, you may think.
But when was the last time you took a step back and said, “Wow, I was out of line.”
We cannot control the actions of another person hellbent on destroying any more than we can control the weather outside.
What is the answer? I don’t know. But I do know what I can do in the wake of this tragedy.
I can stop being so angry.
I can turn off the noise –- the news, the sensationalized news, the politicians, the Internet, the talk-show hosts, the political pundits, blowhards and social media. Everyone has an opinion, a hypothetical answer, and a reason. I choose not to become desensitized. I don’t need to know every detail of every tragedy.
I can live by the Golden Rule.
I can thank a higher power for everything that I have, I can stop coveting what others may have.
I can remember that not everyone believes as I do, but they their beliefs deserve as much respect as mine do.
I can smile more.
I can tell my loved ones how much they mean to me.
I can thank the teachers in my son’s life for their dedication. It takes a better person than me to want to spend all day, every day with someone else’s child.
I can thank the federal government for keeping me safe.
I can write a letter to a service member for their dedication to their job — they, too, chose a life that I could not.
I can thank a police officer, fire fighter and EMT for being the first to respond — even if it’s giving me a speeding ticket.
I can work to improve the mental health facilities in my community. I can demand a better solution than loading a schizophrenic up on drugs and putting them back on the street.
I can volunteer my time to the less fortunate in my community.
I can slow down.
I can respect that not everyone is having a good day. I give them slack just as I would like slack because I don’t know what’s going on in their life.
I can remember that the world does not revolve around me.
I can make a difference in another person’s life; my generosity, kindness, concern for another individual has the possibility to change a path for the good or bad.
I can work toward the society that I want to live in.
I can take my part of the blame in this. I can own it.
Superman doesn’t exist; he didn’t come in and save the day last week.
But there are many super people who do just that every day. They are my heroes.
I, too, can be a hero.