violence is not the only thing from which we need to protect our kids

boston1 Today I intended to write about some homeschooling topics. (That post will publish next week.) I enjoy being funny on this blog and even though some of what I talk about (mindfulness, homeschooling, parenting, etc.) possesses a seriousness, I try to inject some humor into everyday experiences. But in light of the bombings in Boston, I feel a need to respond as a mother.

First, I must express my sincere and heartfelt condolences to all who have lost loved ones or sustained injuries. My thoughts join in with those from peoples all around the globe.

My children are still quite young and I can shield them from violence and its consequential senseless tragedy. My children aren’t aware of Aurora, Virginia Tech, Newtown and too many others—I turn off the TV and NPR (my constant companion) in the wake of these kinds of violent acts. If any of it were to enter their consciousness, we would conduct the necessary discussions. But thankfully, it hasn’t happened yet. As I wrote after the Newtown shootings, “I feel so grateful that my kids are little enough to be oblivious to this tragedy. I want to protect them from the knowledge that this kind of violence is possible in this world into which I’ve brought them. I know this kind of protection will not be possible forever.”

I love Boston. I called it home for nearly 10 years. I now live a mere 40 miles (give or take) from the finish line of the marathon. As you can imagine, this tragedy is the primary topic of conversation on local television and radio. On Tuesday, the day after the bombings, all major local news stations preempted regular programming to carry coverage of the tragedy. Hours and hours of terrible images, the same information rehashed over and over with very little new to add. This event—like all acts of violence—is terrible in and of itself, but the local media turned it into spectacle, as it does to everything from a Nor’easter to politicians’ naughty conduct. I want to be informed so I can form educated opinions and keep my family safe and healthy, and an event like this requires and merits extra attention. But the coverage verges on exploitation. And I think it is because it doesn’t feel as though it comes from a place of authenticity; a place of genuine concern for the tragedy itself, its victims and its implications. It feels sensationalized and serves not to inform, but to add to the general anxiety of our culture.

This latest act of violence has prompted me to wonder: from what exactly do we need to protect our kids?

We live in a culture of fear. We seem to have moved from the credo of there is nothing to fear but fear itself to adopting a better safe than sorry mentality. What are we sacrificing for our children when we live under the willingly assumed fear that there is no safety, no certainty, nothing to be trusted? When we perpetuate and fuel these fears with our beliefs and actions? Armed guards in schools, the tug-o-war between arms enthusiasts and those in support of tighter gun laws (which is the tug-o-war between the fear of being unarmed and the fear of those who are armed), the belief in the necessity of a highly-funded military. In some respects, I am a “just in case” kind of person myself, but the ways in which we respond to violence, fueled by the media frenzy, is polarizing us as a people rather than building community and solidarity—the real antidotes to that which can threaten us.

How will our children be shaped if led to believe such great fear is founded?

From bike helmets to “stranger danger,” ultra-safe playgrounds to media frenzy, I wonder how it will effect them to live with the assumption that there is something to fear in everything. Do we want our children to be safe? Of course. Are there good arguments for some of these things? Without doubt. But how do we protect them from fear itself and its limiting power? The idea that nothing is safe and everything requires precaution?

This is what I want to protect my kids from.

I want to honor the losses when acts of violence erupt. I want to grieve for those who lose their lives, their loved ones and those who are hurt and might spend months and maybe a lifetime in recovery. But I want my children to be free of unnecessary fear. I don’t want to live in a world where armed guards are a fact of life—a reminder and symbol of an unavoidable threat to be feared. I want to focus on the good, seek out hope, build community and in embracing these ideals and passing them to my children, free them.

...Imagine all the people sharing all the world... You, you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one I hope some day you'll join us And the world will live as one John Lennon