A little boy, a third-grader, stood up and told the Superintendent, “It’s okay. It happens all the time.”

Diana L. Greene was meeting with the third-grade class at a local elementary to tell them how sorry she was that their window was pierced by a stray bullet from guns being fired across the street.

Her reaction? They are immune to it.

They are. It’s been a part of the lives of too many children in Jacksonville, Florida since they entered the world.

It’s routine: hearing the shots, hiding under the bed, hoping to stay alive.

The trauma of living in such difficult circumstances rewrites their biology. These children come to school less able to learn.

The challenge of the school system is to create a safe place where the trauma eases, biology recovers, and learning takes place.

But children grow up. When children grow up with gunfire around them, fearing for their lives, eventually as older children and adolescents, they begin to think they need to be able to fire back.

Even if they don’t, the thought that guns are a way people settle their disagreements is a part of the culture, which brings about tragedies like this.

A Mom speaks out about her son’s murder.

How do we change a culture of violence?

How do we make a difference?

Maybe it starts with recognizing that we are one community and what affects one, affects all.

There’s no silver bullet (an ironic phrase if there ever was one.) There’s not one right answer. It will take many, many small and large steps.

It will take rational thinking–the kind of thinking that says more guns is not the answer.

Because stray bullets are pieces of metal. They don’t have minds and they don’t think about whether the person they are about to strike deserves it. They follow the physics of their launch.

If you’ve ever wondered why teachers don’t shut up and just do their jobs, this is it.

Every societal woe, every crisis, and every inequity walks through the classroom door every day.

Children are hungry. Children are dirty. Children are neglected. Children are hiding from bullets.

That keeps them from learning.

That keeps them from living the lives that everyone deserves and, in too many cases, cuts their lives short.

2 thoughts on “Gunfire

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