March 29, 2023

All those Little Cubbies: Why we Cannot Look Away from America’s Latest School Massacre.

All those little cubbies.

Bright backpacks and lunch boxes.

Cheerful artwork on the walls.

These were not meant to be seen in bodycam footage of the heavily armed officers responding to the latest school massacre in America.

But there they are, and there they will be, time and again.

I should not have watched, I think now, as broken as I feel, and yet something within me said I must watch (we all must watch) because if this is the reality we force our children to live, again and again, if this is how we’ve decided they must die, we ought to at least look at what we have done.

Of course, I say “we” even as I am so painfully aware of the “us” and “them” America has become.

Some of us hold the most permissive interpretation of the Second Amendment as sacred.

Some of us hold the lives of our children as sacred.

There is no overlap at this point, and to pretend there might be is to willfully choose ignorance. This cannot be had both ways. There is also no solution law is likely to offer. Thoughts and prayers are the default, and they are poor body armor for our little ones.

What, then? How are we to live in this nation where nothing is sacred, least of all life once it emerges from the womb? How are we to reconcile this relentless horror with the soul’s understanding of the universe as a safe and benevolent place?

Might the soul have it wrong?

What I keep coming back to is the concept of “us” versus “them.” This idea of our separation from one another, our difference, our jockeying for power and position; this is at the root of all our ills in this life.

Children tease, unaware that the pain taking root in those they bully may one day have a body count.

Am I making excuses for those who choose violence as the answer to their suffering?


Many of us suffer any number of injustices in this world yet still turn the other cheek. There is no justification for violence.

Yet we as a culture reap what we sow. When we adults cannot engage in civilized discourse, when we demonize one another, when we shout hateful words, when we draw the line between “us” and “them,” our children are watching.

They are learning from our example, and perhaps more pointedly, from our energy.

Can we love the guns out of our society? Can we wish away madness with kind thoughts?

No. At least, not the way we wish we could. Energy is not a magic wand we can wave for an instant result.

But I do believe we create our world. Moment by moment, thought by thought, action by action.

What if those of us whose souls ache from the hurt of these shootings, these deaths, these unrelating assaults on all that ought to be magical in childhood—what if we were to commit fully to examining our actions in our own lives, to deliberately choosing radical kindness in every moment? What if that had a ripple effect that mitigated some of the hurt? What if it made the crucial difference in just one life, so that many lives might be saved?


I understand how this sounds. So Pollyanna in the face of powerful demons.

But what else have we got?

I can’t control the politicians in the pockets of the gun lobby—can you? I can’t control the mind of an individual who would see slaughtering strangers as the only way forward.

I only have agency over myself. The same is true for you.

And you.

And you.

I will go to my grave believing in the ripple effect of actions and hoping that good is at least as great a power in this world as evil, or worse, inaction.

Because, oh, all those little cubbies. Those bright backpacks and lunch boxes. All that cheerful artwork on the walls.

I will never accept that those should be seen in bodycam footage, or in the sights of any weapon of war.


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