Pebble in My Shoe

There is a pebble in my shoe. With each step I wound myself. The pain travels into the sole and causes me to walk with a limp. Step. Hobble. Step. Hobble. It is beyond annoying. The bruises make me dread each footfall. Some steps are painless, as the stone moves to the side, but that only magnifies the agony on the subsequent ones, when the rock’s edge makes a direct hit into my flesh. The injuries are numerous and vary in location. They are raw. Bleeding. The more I walk, the deeper they go. The more I walk, the more pronounced my limp becomes. There is no time for healing between paces. I am crippling myself, all because I will not remove the rock from my shoe.

Another school shooting, and we still will not remove the rock. We’d rather walk with a painful limp and get weaker with each step. I have been an educator my entire life. I have worked in numerous schools in several different roles. Over the tenure of my career, the shooter drills have become as common as fire drills, while we try to prepare students for every circumstance, which of course, we cannot do. If we could, the deaths would have decreased, but the opposite has happened. I have cowered in the corner during shooter drills, with terrified third graders who shake with fear at the idea that what they have witnessed on the news might be happening at their school. I have made up ridiculous stories of pushing bookcases over onto shooters and bopping them with a bat, in hopes that their imaginary pictures of their silly teacher stopping the bad guys will ease their discomfort. But deep down, we all know we are sitting ducks. That we cannot predict, nor prepare for, every scenario.

It seems to me, removing the pebble should be a top priority. It is not hard to figure out where the wound is coming from. It is not difficult to connect the pain in our souls to the stone in our shoe. Our shoe is not cemented on. We can simply remove the rock to ease our pain. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Yet, we cannot seem to do it. We cannot bring ourselves to even attempt to make the change we desire because…we are afraid.

We operate under a mantel of fear which weighs us down and paralyzes us. Its choke hold will not allow us to move. We fear someone will take all our guns away. We fear we will be left defenseless…like our children are now. Scary thought, yes?  We only trust ourselves for our own protection and claim we are the only ones capable of defense. Yet, who is defending our children?

At the same time, we fear our children will continue to be killed. We fear the lunacy of public shootings will continue. We fear the insane people who do such things will continue to shoot us when we least expect it. We only trust that taking all guns away will deter them and stop the madness. But will it really? Won’t there always be people who find ways to kill?

I have always heard the opposite of love is hate, but I believe it is fear. Fear prevents love. This is an example. Do we love our kids enough to go to the negotiating table? Or, are we too afraid to sit with those opposite of us? Are we all or nothing, with no room for listening because of our fear, or our pride? Fear, pride, and hate are bedfellows. Love stands alone and can overcome whatever those three are stirring up. However, love needs arms to embrace and legs to stand. And hands that reach and ears that listen. It needs mouths that speak with wisdom. Love cannot be bought. It just is…and its free for the taking. We simply need to reach out, be brave enough to take off our shoe, and remove the stone. For the sake of our children. For the sake of love.

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