Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What I Want for Christmas 2012

Christmas has always held a special place in my heart. Raised in a very religious family, it was the season to celebrate the birth of God into human form — the event when God walked the Earth. A time love became settled on the earth. It has always been a joyous time in my family though as a child I did not perceive the greater meaning. The script was the story of a perfect baby with awesome but extremely poor parents—a mother of 13, a father in his twenties—surrounded by strange visitors who somehow figured it all out.

Fast forward to my thirties. I am a young mother with a new borne in the backwoods of Vermont staying with friends and their 1 year old. We receive a call. My brother-in-law and his wife are expecting their first. An amazing thing happened. I was filled with a radiant joy. A birth. Another new start. Another attempt at a better world. In that singular moment I got the meaning of Christmas. The purity of the innocent start. The love of parents. The hope for humanity. The chance at a better world. All wrapped in a little child.

Since then that has been what Christmas has been for me. Not gifts or Santa or even gatherings. It has meant the innocent heart. The fresh start. The change towards a loving world.

But this year...

My heart cries out. Why as a society do we believe and advocate so strongly for the power of violence? Why do we not protect our babies, our innocents? God dammint—our SIX years olds! Those of pink cheeks and ready grins, and constant questions "but why"? Babies with an entire life yet to be created?

Cousins - Becca and Tegan
Most of my life I have worked in education. And many of you may recognize me as a professor but before that in my twenties much like Victoria Soto I worked in an elementary school. I worked as a special education aide with those who had trouble fitting into the categories that our society puts forth. I have and will always love the energy of an elementary school and those "special" children. There is an openness that children bring to the world and an eagerness to just be that cannot be explained easily. It is a world of open hearts easily damaged and yet easily strengthened. 
My first teaching experience - special ed aide on the Lincoln Elementary School in Vermont. Much like Newtown, a small rural school with a great principal and mostly female staff.
But since then, since I was a child and since I was an aide, and even since my daughter went through school, we live in a different society. Schools are "locked down". The world is regarded as one of danger and fear. What kind of lesson is this? What kind of world are we creating? What kind of persons are we creating when we strip away love and trust and replace it with fear and hate?

Newtown. I can imagine the principal and her staff. I worked in such a school. I am sure their days were about the needs of Kate and Sam and Nate's IEP. They put in longer hours than most people understand. They discussed the softball team, the bad coffee, the school board decision, who threw up during assembly, and how to reach Emily and Pete. That is until last Friday.

A debate is raging.
Don't take away our right to bear arms.
It's the mentally disabled. Stop them, those weirdos.
Guns blazing.

I get it. I teach media. I've heard this debate. Just change the words around. It's not mediait is those susceptible.  It's not guns. It's THEM.

But "them" are the innocents. The broken innocents. And the arms technology in 221 years has changed from slow loading muskets to semi-automatics military style killing machines.

But I am whole. You are whole. It is our job to protect the innocents, broken and whole. Do you walk a child into a candy shop when they are diabetic? Do we make semi-automatic guns so easily available to those who are the broken innocents?

It is our job, the job of the reasoned and healthy to make way for a brighter world, a world of love, a world that every culture hopes for and believes in. But belief is not enough. We need to proactively protect our innocent—the young children who died in Newtown, their hard working teachers, and the young misguided man who took their lives.
Governor's Institute of Vermont in IT - teens using IT to propose solutions to a better world.
So let me go back to my innocent self—the one who believed in angels and such. What would God do if again in human form? Advocate for weapons or for the babies? What would make Christmas ring out hope for humanity?
Breakaway game camps in Hebron, Palestine. College students teaching respect and peace in a divided city.
I believe we have three clear steps:
  1. Our first step is regulating the powerful tools that cause such instantaneous and unstoppable destruction such as the semi-automatic weapons used in the Newtown murder of innocents. The tools that changed a misguided and broken human being into a mass murderer. 
  2. Our second step is looking at our own selves and asking how can I work to make our world a more loving and peaceful one. 
  3. And then let's all tell those we love that we do indeed love them deeply.
There's no time for hiding in the sand because as history of school shootings shows it just get's worse. Here's one way to have a voice that counts: .

And even better, directly write your Congress and Senate members requesting an end to this insanity. They are easily reached online just Google your state or their names directly and leave a message.

And then we can truly wish each other a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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