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This article first appeared in issue 28, and was written by Laura Emberton Owens.
I wept as I heard the latest news bulletin. Having grown accustomed to the crime-riddled headlines that plague our nation I was surprised at my reaction to the broadcast that seemed almost unfathomable: "Michigan first-grader fatally shot by classmate."
Neither the victim nor the assailant was much more than a baby, six years old; yet, the unthinkable had happened. As I watched the televised clips throughout the day I was unable to shake the unsettled feeling. You see, I have a six-year-old daughter. What if it had been my child taken away forever?
As my son nears the end of his teenage years the uncomfortable feelings of parenthood are not unfamiliar. The empathy I feel when I hear of a high school shooting, the anxiety that overcomes me knowing of tense moments at our local high school, and the fear I experience each time my son leaves the house are all emotions shared by most teenagers parents. These, however, are not thoughts that ever entered my mind regarding my little girl, a child who still anxiously awaits Santa Claus, gets excited over picking teams for recess, and needs Band Aids and kisses even when her latest boo boo isn t actually visible.
Expanding these appalling nightmares into the lives of small children is not OK. Learning to expect the worst in the lives of any child, or adult for that matter, is not OK. Hopefully, I will no longer listen casually as the news discloses the latest catastrophes. Where is the stopping place? Perhaps in some small way my unwillingness to accept these horrible occurrences as commonplace can somehow help.
I am not going to believe this is just another unfortunate incident. I am no longer just saddened by such occurrences, I am angry. I question not only the availability but also the necessity of handguns. There is a point where we must stop accepting the wrongs of the world as unavoidable fate. Even if it s only through my lack of acceptance I must take a stand.
I will not grow accepting of the horrific actions that have engulfed our nation. I am appalled. By not reacting to the harrowing circumstances I am in some sense accepting them as inevitable, no longer voicing my hope for change. I am unwilling to receive poor service or substandard merchandise with out making my dissatisfaction known, why should I be willing to accept things of much greater consequence without voicing my disappointment? While there appears to be little we can do about the far-reaching problems that span the world, we do not have to accept them.
The little girl who will have no more birthday parties, no more bed time stories, and no more kisses good night could have been mine. I am not willing to accept that.
This story was posted on 2000-03-15 12:01:01
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