To My Congressional Representatives

I know that I have only one voice. But I have one, and I am determined to use it.

On the four month anniversary of Sandy Hook, we are reminded that nothing has been done to prevent yet another shooting of this nature.  Listen to the family members of the victims in this tragedy. They live the aftermath of our society’s inability to do something. 60 minutes 4-7-2013

Today, family members of the victims of this tragedy will be in Washington, DC. I implore our representatives in Congress to listen – do not rush by arrogantly and claim you are “all set” as one insensitive Connecticut representative does in the video.  Listen, listen to these people who will live with the aftermath of this tragedy for the rest of their days.

We cannot afford to be complacent, afraid of controversy, or stubbornly one-sided in these discussions. This is a complicated issues — along with gun control, we can no longer ignore those who face mental challenges, and yet, through stigma and misconception, are outcast from receiving meaningful help and assistance. We cannot allow, as the NRA has suggested, our schools to become armed bastions.

Something needs to change here. It’s not just Sandy Hook – violence impacts families and communities every day. Read, or at the very least, look at the graphic of mass shootings found this article from Mother Jones.

My own students sometimes come to class – third grade – with stories of guns going off in their neighborhood. They know the difference between a car backfiring and the sound of a gun. Is this the kind of childhood we want for our children?

Please contact your own congressional representatives.  I have.


Reality Bites

Over the last weeks, my hometown has had two incredibly sad instances of domestic violence. Working in an urban setting, teachers are always aware of the nasty underbelly of society. Certainly I have had students who have been impacted by domestic violence, but that was in the city. Not in my neat little suburban, monied hometown.

In the first instance, a man shot his wife during an argument and then turned the gun on himself. The woman lingered for a day and then died. At least two high school age children were at home at the time of the shooting and a third arrived home shortly after. Now three children are without a mother or a father, who is in custody pending trial.

Last week, a father shot and killed his 17 year old high school senior daughter, shot his wife, and then committed suicide by turning the gun on himself. By all accounts, this girl had a wonderfully bright future ahead of her; she had just been accepted to UVM. While the reasons for the shootings have not fully been revealed, the reality is that they happened. And they happened right here in the cozy suburbs.

No one seems to have seen this coming. There had been a 911 call hangup and, following protocol, the dispatcher called the home back. The daughter indicated that all was okay and no police assistance needed. However, even as the dispatcher was talking with the daughter on the telephone, her father began using his gun on the family. Another family is destroyed by violence.

Even though I did not know this family, or the other family affected by domestic violence, I feel an overwhelming sadness. Sadness for the families who must try to pick up the threads of their lives and continue to live. Sadness for a mother who, if she regains cognition and awareness, will now live with unimaginable grief, sadness for classmates who have lost a great friend to senseless violence.

Such incredible sadness to this story and the story of  the other family in town destroyed within the last two weeks by violence. And it happened here in the safe, secure, suburbs. Were there warning signals that weren’t picked up because of our affluence?

Domestic violence is all around us. Lulling ourselves into feeling complacent because of affluence is no longer an option.