One of the things I fear the most is flying… I hate to fly, but I love to travel. I do not like the feeling of not being in control, and when you are up there at 30,000 feet, you in anything but control. To deal with this fear I usually make some stupid comment about having some Nyquil in Boston and waking up in Rome, and if the plane goes down, I will be fast asleep and none the wiser.
Confession time: Flying is not the thing I fear the most.
At the start of each school year, among other questions, I ask my students, “what is your greatest fear?” The responses usually include things like spiders, heights, clowns… the usual stuff. I offer my greatest fear as flying. However in light of the events of this past Friday in Connecticut, I will confess the thing I truly fear the most, and that is a school shooting.
Friday afternoon, and throughout the weekend, as more and more details emerged concerning the events which took the lives of 27 people, 20 of which were children 7 years old or younger, I went through a range of emotions. I thought of my nephews and my niece, of their innocence, their trust in adults, and their ignorance to how ugly and dangerous this world really is; I thought of those students at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the terror they must have felt, the confusion, and the chaos; I thought of the shooter with disgust and hatred; I thought of my own students and whether or not I would make smart choices in the heat of the moment.
My greatest fear is not for my own safety, it is for the safety of my wife who also teachers in this building and that of my students. My greatest fear is making a poor decision which costs a student or students their lives; my greatest fear is that I miss a warning sign of a student on the brink; my greatest fear is that in my heart I know that this school is unprepared for such an emergency; my greatest fear is that no amount of preparation will stop someone bent on creating destruction with no regard for his personal welfare; my greatest fear is that teachers and students do not take lock down drills seriously and that at any given moment there are unlocked doors all over the building. My greatest fear is the foolish belief people have that ‘this will never happen to me, or to this school’ My greatest fear is of self-absorption and desensitization to the point that people on Social Media were complaining that they couldn’t watch Ellen because of the shooting…
I suppose considering all those other things I’m afraid of, flying doesn’t seem all that bad anymore.