Parenting in a World with Mass Shootings
It has happened again. Another mass shooting. It seems like this is becoming a regular occurrence. I scan the headline for location and start breathing again. It didn’t happen here. Not today anyway. My gut instinct to get into the car and grab all my children slowly starts to subside.
Days like these make me want to live far out in the wilderness away from the cruelty humanity can bring upon itself. But then I think about how I would be afraid of bears, spiders and javelina – yes javelina (don’t judge!) and I am back to square one.
These mass shootings are turning my anxious self into a paranoid self.
I find myself scrutinizing the children that are flowing into my kid’s school. Does he look like a loner? Is he talking to himself? Is he the next headline?
I scan the aisles at the grocery store – looking for the lonely guy without a shopping cart and a chip on his shoulder. I used to love people-watching in the airport, but it is has become no longer a hobby, but a response to a growing anxiety in my gut.
I develop a growing list of reasons why the mass shooting couldn’t happen to me:
-I don’t live in that country
-I don’t live in that state
-I don’t go to large events
-I don’t work at a government building
-I don’t work on a military base
-I don’t work at a controversial place
-I don’t go to school
-I don’t go to college
I don’t go to the movies?
I try to develop a clear picture of who my enemy is:
-He is a foreign terrorist
-He is not stable
-He is a local disgruntled employee
-He is a radical
-He is a supporter of ISIS
He is a she?
I can’t live like this – no one can. I don’t remember growing up with the fear of mass shootings. I don’t remember lock down drills at my school.
Is this the world my children are going to grow up in? Are we doomed to be locked down in our homes, glued to CNN reading breaking news? I sure hope not.
I refuse to let fear paralyze me and tint my rosy glasses dark grey. I refuse to let my anxiety and growing paranoia squash my belief that there is more good than evil in the world. That for every horrific story, there is a story of strength and love.
I need to tell myself what I tell my children. That there are roughly 7 billion people in this world. The odds of winning the lottery are 1 out of 175 million – not billion. You have better odds of winning the lottery than being in a mass shooting.
If we focus on all the bad – we will miss out on all the good. We need to remind ourselves and teach our kids that darkness cannot extinguish the light. That we will not let that happen.