Friday, December 14, 2012

How the Light Gets In

In the wake of tragedy, such as we saw today in Connecticut, it's normal to feel desolate, despondent, and utterly cynical.  Throughout the day, I've heard it again and again: what is this world coming to?  How can things be this bad?  What is happening to our country?

And then there are the political questions: why are dangerous weapons so accessible?  Do we need stricter laws?  Where do safety and freedom collide?

I saw several posts that said something along these lines: I think I may homeschool my kids.  I'm glad I homeschool my kids.  This is why I homeschool my kids.   

I understand that difficult times like this cause us to question the very fabric of our society.  We wonder "is humankind really that evil?"  There's talk of the world getting worse, instead of better.  The kind of violence that we saw today is meaningless, and inexcusable.  But I believe the reason it hits us so hard is that it's not common.  In America, children aren't afraid to go to school for fear that they may be shot.  It is not normal for an elementary school child to wonder, "Am I safe here in class?"

This isn't true all over the world.  In some countries, going to school is a dangerous thing.  War, genocide, violence make school an improbability.  There are some very dark places in this world that child murder is not that uncommon.

That said, the world is not a terrible place.  It's a wonderful place, but it has some people in it that are sick.  Whether it's a sickness of the mind or a sickness of the heart, this perversion does not permeate our whole society.  We are wrong if we think that it does. 

What worried me today was the idea that educating one's children at home will keep them safe.  Unfortunately, we all know that evil deeds can happen anywhere, not just at schools.  While homeschooling seems to be a great option for many families, I worry that keeping kids at home  for the sole sake of "keeping them safe" only teaches fear.  I would hate for a child to believe that the public school system is a dangerous, scary place.  Of course, bullying has to be taken into account, but separating children from the world in order to keep them "safe" sends a message that I find troublesome.  As a person who has dealt with anxiety for much of her life, some things feel innately dangerous; planes, heights, crowds, and elevators have all fit the bill at one point or another.  But living in this beautiful world and being scared is a travesty.  There are so many amazing things our public schools offer, as does our world at a whole.  Hiding children from this world isn't the answer.  While today is a day of sorrow and remembrance, a day to ask questions and keep one another close, it shouldn't be a day of fear.

So here are some things to be grateful for:

baby kisses
strangers who say "hello" when you pass on the street
people who hold doors open
cars that let you merge without having to force your way in
teenagers who aren't afraid to be seen with you
ginger beer
the way Canadians say "sorry" and "about"
the sweet simplicity of holding someone's hand
red pandas
good coupons
soft blankets
children's innocence
the way technology improves communication
laughing so hard you're afraid you might pee yourself
the pleasant exhaustion of a good workout
anticipation before a kiss
the extra treat you sometimes get at a vending machine
the color turquoise
unexpected gifts
sweet strangers that call you "hon" or "dear"
finding an empty checkout line at the grocery
crying because you're happy
chocolate chip cookies and milk
your first love
finding the sacred in the mundane
Shark Week
really good coffee
inside jokes
a best friend
aspen trees
knowing you are good at your job
the weirdly pleasant and familiar grossness of rented bowling shoes
hitting all green lights on the way home
sea turtles
kindness from strangers
an honest compliment (giving OR receiving)
a hot shower
the feeling you get when everyone laughs really hard at the same time at a movie theater
watching a child learn to read on their own
collecting shells
feeling like your prayers are heard
modern medicine
singing along to the radio with the car windows open, and knowing all the words
blue skies
long walks

"There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in." -  Leonard Cohen

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." - 2 Timothy 1:7

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