May 27, 2022

This is Not the American we have Dreamed of. This is our Worst Nightmare.

They were children, babies really.

They sang songs to their little sisters and brothers at bedtime. They held their parents’ hands when they crossed a busy street, and they played baseball and soccer on cleats with tiny studs. They made up games when they played at recess, and they ran around their school’s gymnasium as fast as they could.

They wrote their teachers “thank you” cards at the end of the year, two or three heartfelt words at a time, adorned with flowers and rainbows and drawings of hand-holding and smiles. They loved their parents and their grandparents and their aunts and their uncles and their cousins and their friends and all the people who loved them back.

And they are gone.

And I am angry.

I am filled with a rage that cuts through my bones with the fury of every mother and father in this country who must fear for their child, in a space where they should be protected, where they should be free to learn with open minds and hearts, where their teachers pour everything they have into molding the minds that will carry us into the next generation.

And like a broken dam, it is followed by the recognition of and empathy for the infinite anguish of the families of those lost in Uvalde and Sandy Hook and Columbine and Marjory Stoneman Douglas and schools and stores and churches and workplaces and synagogues and places of leisure and relaxation that will be listed on and on forever, it seems.

It reverberates with the loss of life in places that are considered safe, sacred, unassailable. And I am afraid. The fury and the fear are inexorably linked.

Today, it is not our community upon which a tragedy is inflicted. Will it come for us tomorrow? This is our worst nightmare.

An exquisite, unbearable loss of trust is what is happening here. We can no longer rely on the common courtesy of those around us to not murder us with guns held hallowed, as we do the things we do every day—drop our kids off at school, pick up dinner at the grocery store, worship if we desire to do so, walk the streets of our neighborhoods at dusk.

We teach our children to hide, to turn off the lights and remain silent. We tell them to hope but prepare them to witness carnage. We offer our teachers escape plans but prepare them to sacrifice themselves to save the lives of the students they love.

We cannot protect them. We cannot protect each other. How much is enough?

Despite all the decrying of the true causes of mental health and radicalization, massacres, of any size, do not happen without the means to carry them out. All this loss of life, in all its forms, feels senseless, random, infuriating. It is accompanied by a grief that seeps into every part of the after.

What is keeping those with the power to do so from stopping this? We have seen other countries do it. Why not us? This is not the America we have dreamed of, that we have put our faith into. This is our worst nightmare.

I have seen eloquent and searing reflections of the emotions of the collective consciousness.

Amanda Gorman’s words resonate:

“It takes a monster to kill children. But to watch monsters kill children again and again and do nothing isn’t just insanity; it’s inhumanity.”

Will we all become monsters if we sit by and watch and hope that something—anything—will change?

How much is enough?


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Allison Egger  |  Contribution: 545

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