Monday, December 17, 2012

Why I am Not Afraid to Send My Children to School

I hate dealing with the fallout of atrocities. 

There's something quite unpleasant about it.

There's the emotional knee-jerk reactions that always seem to find their way to discussion.

There's the need to find reasons why such atrocities occur.

There's the need to post blame.

Then, there's the reaction played out in our individual responses to such things.  Unfortunately, fear tends to be a big, big driver of such emotions.  As a parent, I understand.  You want to protect your kids.  You want to keep them safe.  You want to keep them secure and give them the chance to experience life.  You are willing to offer up the cosmic bargain, "God take me, but spare my kids!"

Really, I understand.  I do. I mean it.  But there is a time for emoting, and there is a time for thinking.  The latter at some point must begin overruling the former.

Without hesitation, I sent my kids to school this morning.  There was no thought of worry.  There was no thought of wondering if they would be safe.  There was no consideration of their schools' safety procedures or protocols.  Nothing of the sort crossed my mind even in light of the school shooting in Newtown, CT.

Why?  Don't I care?  Aren't I the least bit moved and concerned?

I am no more concerned about taking my kids to school this day than I am about buckling them into their car seats and driving them down the road at 60 to 80 miles per hour.  In one of those scenarios, the kids have a much greater chance of coming to harm than the other.  Can you guess which one?

If you guessed the car, you would be correct. 

My kids have a greater chance of coming to harm on their trip to school than while they are at school.  That's simply a fact, but do I think twice about buckling them up and taking a drive?  No.  Not at all.  Even though the odds are greater they would get hurt in an accident, I'll still take them for a drive without thinking mostly because I THINK I'M IN CONTROL OF THE SITUATION.

That's the real deal, isn't it.  I think I've got control of things.  I think I can protect my kids when they are with me.  But is that really the case?  Do we really believe it is within our power to protect our children and ourselves at all times and in all places?  Do we really believe we can prevent our kids and ourselves from coming to harm? 

If you believe you can, I believe you suffer from a delusion. 

The truth of life is that we take calculated risks every day, and most of the time, we don't even realize we are doing it.  We take a risk when we climb into our vehicles.  We take a risk when we plug in an electrical appliance.  We take a risk when we walk under a tree.  We take a risk when we walk into a room full of people.  We take a risk when we own a dog.  We take a risk when we walk down a side walk. 

In each of those ordinary things we do, the potential for something very bad to happen is very real, but we don't even think about it because if we did, we would be paralyzed with fear.  If we thought of every possible bad thing that could happen to us in the midst of our daily lives and worried it could happen to us, we would go completely nuts!

Yet, when a tragedy strikes and images are brought into our homes, we get the sense that such things are right around the corner destined to happen to us and our kids.  When television and computers bring tragedies from thousands or hundreds of miles away from us right before our faces, some become convinced such things are common and will happen to us--when we have a whole lifetime of other experiences that are to the contrary.  We focus on that one moment and allow our emotions to take over when we should look at the evidence that bad things happen, but they happen rarely.  The risk is quite minimal.

Realizing such things gives one perspective, and I hope, courage.  Courage is something that we admire greatly.  After 911, people applauded the bravery of firemen and police and first responders and lauded their courage.  Yet, afterward, many clamored in fear.  As a result, we've had a very expensive war on terror costing American lives, billions of dollars, and the formation of the TSA which violates our constitutional rights each time we fly on an airplane.  The courageous response would to have been to thumb our noses at the terrorists and say, "You got us this time, but try pulling out box cutters on a plane again.  We'll be ready for you.  You will not restrict the freedoms we have!"

What are the lessons to be learned from the most recent school shooting?  What shall we learn about guns and mental illness and socially outcast people?  Will we respond in fear or courage? 

This father is responding in courage and faith.  I'm sending my kids to school without hesitation.  Could something happen to them?  Sure.  Would I be devastated if it did?  Sure.  Crushed, but I'm going to take the chance.

You can't live in fear.

Live in faith.


Kathy said...

Not buyin' it, Kevin. Did you hear the President last night? Something must change. Gun control will be one part of it.

It would be very nice if the mainline denominations would stop relativizing Truth and call evil evil. I think this is a big, big part of the cause.

I for one am completely fed up.

Kevin Haug said...

I don't expect you or many people to "buy it", Kathy. I expect that a good deal many people will reject what I say in this posting because they simply cannot overcome their fear: fear of dying; fear of something bad happening; fear of losing what they feel is rightfully theirs, etc.

A good chunk of people live in fear these days and believe that if we just had more laws on the books, if we just could legislate the right things, we could end poverty, violence, theft, etc. Freedom gets consumed because people want to be safe. Courage disappears. Trust evaporates. Paranoia sets in. I am sorry you fall into this. I simply refuse to.

Little Ella Lu said...

Thank you for this post. It has really helped to calm me and put life's daily risks into perspective.