A decade and half ago, I graduated high school 2 months after the Columbine High School mass shooting. I remember being in my small suburban New York town and feeling unsure of how to handle the emotions of knowing students like me had witnessed such a horrific act. I remember the debates that followed and flooded the dinner tables of homes around me. “It had to be because of video games.” “The music is to blame.” But eventually, those debates ceased and while in the background, new issues and hot news topics surfaced for many of us Americans who were for the most part unaffected.
There were other mass shootings after that too. In other schools, at salons, grocery stores, movie theaters. But the year my first child was born, 28 people died in a massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. I pushed my daughter into a world where, as the recent years have proven, the USA became the mass shooting capital of the world.
I once donated to Sandy Hook Promise and now I get the emails for their cause. I see photos of their children from the parents who lost their babies and who started the organization. I remember reading, Mark Bowden, a co-founder and father of victim Daniel Bowden, stating that he “wants to invest every fiber of his being to prevent this from happening again.”
I felt his pain. I would want to do the same as he and those dedicated parents keep doing…
The thing is, it did happen again. and again. and again.
In the 5 short years my daughter has been breathing in this world and during which my son was born, there have been 11 fatal school shootings across the nation. From Nevada to Colorado to Oregon to Washington to California to Kentucky and now Florida last week, I can’t keep up. This does not include schools where fatalities were not present, but shootings occurred. This does not include the churches, theaters, ceremonies and acts of violence I have become accustomed to hearing about. I’m not sure why our society has come to this. But it has and here we are.
Someone once told me that it feels surreal…the idea of young children going to school and not coming home to their families.
I imagine my daughter and her friends, my friends’ children, my nieces, my nephews. Today I watched her smile and run to her classroom door. “I love you.” and the door closed.
It is surreal. It is wrong. It is scary. It is confusing.
This just doesn’t feel right.
So, as moms, what do we do?
With all the differences in opinions and reasons and ideas…what do we do?
As mothers, we may come from many backgrounds, political views, cultural ideas and beliefs.
But we are mothers. That is a unifying force that no other human in the world can ever understand, what it means to be…a mother. To have birthed and nurtured these souls of light we call our children.
So along with all of these prayers we offer our fellow mothers, let’s do more than thoughts and prayers. I’m linking 5 ways you can take action in this list:
- Support mothers who want gun reform. Something is obviously not working here if our children are at risk for dying in their schools. Whatever you political stance is, these are moms demanding action. Remember MADD and how they legally changed what it means to drive drunk? The crisis now is guns in our schools. These moms need our help.
- Support the teachers who do not want guns in their schools. These are the people who are taking our kids into hiding when guns are brought into their schools to attack them. These are the people we trust everyday with our little ones and we must help them.
- Support the children who are marching for change. On March 14th 2018, students like my 16 year old niece, as well as teachers, school administrators, parents and allies will take part in a #NationalSchoolWalkout for 17 minutes at 10am across every time zone to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods. These kids are tired of being part of a mass shooting generation.
- Find ways to incorporate meditation as a mandatory subject in school to foster inner tools in our kids. As a yoga and meditation teacher I am biased to this. But just consider what it means. Children are given, as a unified student body but still individually, the ability to reflect on their own actions, silence their mind from the media, pressure and anything else that fuels any negative thinking. It has nothing to do with religion or even a belief system. Programs like Mindful Schools let you incorporate mindfulness into your school to teach kids K-12 on how to manage emotion, handle stress and resolve conflict. As the Dalai Lama once said, “If every 8-year-old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” Here’s a Forbes article on ways meditation in schools is a good thing, backed by science.
- Make kindness a “thing” between peers: Movements like The Great Kindness Challenge is not only free for schools of any age, but shown to eliminate bullying which has often been linked to the stress and added mental illness of our youth and hence them resorting to guns and violence.
You may not agree with some of these or maybe any of these ways to support that I’ve mentioned, but that’s fine. Find your own way. Do something, anything, because when mothers come together we can move mountains (reminds me of this story I recently read and love). We can protect our kids who are in fact vulnerable and unprotected right now.
As vessels of love, we can change cries to laughter and worry and fear to love.
There are many people out there who simply want to see what happens. Who don’t think they will be affected. Who feel that things will work out, be alright. Maybe they are right. But in the end, when it comes to my babies lives, maybe is not enough. Enough is enough.