San Diego, CA — And so the bar in American society has been lowered again.
In another supremely obscene and brutal moment, a deranged mind decides to wipe out en mass the lives of people he doesn’t know, and destroy forever the lives of their lived ones.
This time it is the lives of the truly real, little people, little kids (latest count is 18 children) — little kids that in my non-blogging incarnation I have grown to cherish when I’m privileged enough to visit schools in my non-blogging life. I’ve visited many schools here in San Diego but also literally hundreds across the country. The kids killed today were the kinds of little kids who look up to me and talk to me with wisdom way beyond their years, whose eyes light brightly and happily up as they talk happily about their parents, who’d literally jump up and down for joy as I let them try a puppet, who’d giggle when they come onstage, who’d grab my props and insist on carrying cases bigger than they are. Kids with BIG HEARTS. Kids with HOPE — kids not yet corrupted by hatreds, society’s type casting, kids with wonderful dreams. Goofy kids, noble kids, there’s hope for the world yet kids.
I’d often think leaving a school and talking to these kids: “What’s there not to like?”
And the parents and teachers? At the vast majority of schools I visit I see many parents actively involved in the PTAs and school life.
I see kids that will come up and huge me after a show, or hug a teacher. I see teachers that will hug back.
Many of these schools are more than “safe places,” they are de facto families.
And, wo, now, yet another bar has been lowered.
America has sadly seen incarnations of this before through the past 6 decades: lives of colleges students snuffed out in an instant by bullets shot from a young gunman in a university; the safety of eating lunch at McDonald’s shattered in what seemed like an eternity in San Yisdro, near the Tijuana border, ending in the deaths of men, women,children, even a kid outside on a bicycle, people from the U.S. and Mexico; deranged high school students sadistically hunting down and murdering their fellow students and teachers then killing themselves in what was until today the worst school killing in U.S. history; the comfort zone of a movie theater transformed into a killing field by a college student who reportedly picked off his victims without a with a cold, blank, unfeeling look on his face; the murder of several people and a small child and the brain injury to a Congresswoman; murders at a mall.
And now the babies.
Kids at a K through fourth grade school.
Kids who’ve barely tasted let along figure out life.
What parents could ever dream in their worst nightmares that their k-4 child would be butchered at school and suffer such terrifying last moments of life?
During school year 2011-2012 I drove 49,000 miles and did my program at 260 schools and came to know and love the educators and kids in these schools.
And many of them were already on the alert.
Once up on a time (like 10 years ago) I’d do a school and you could walk right in. But after the Columbine Massacre, many schools had gates that were locked after a certain time. You had to go through the office to get in. In many states, this was required by law.
As someone who had to load and unload, this sometimes got a bit inconvenient for me, since some schools were stickers on this rule. Just last month, at a school in California, the custodian apologized because each time I unloaded he had to lock the gate.
Now you can see why.
It was bad enough when all of these other safe places vanished — bad enough when teenagers walked through their high school picking off people and snuffing out human beings who offered love and were loved.
But now we’re down to seeing the butchering of virtual babies. Are pre-schools safe?
The bottom line the bar has been lowered so often now that it can be lowered any more.
With the murder of the innocents and the dedicated teachers and administrators who were killed along with them, a “safe place” is a phrase with accuracy more nebulous than ever before.
And prayers for the dead kids and adults and their families — and for our society — are needed more than ever before.
Graphic via shutterstock.com
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.