I got a letter from my Mom with an article about the elementary school that I attended resorting to using their library as classroom space due to the increasing size of the student body. When I was five and my Mom took me to visit the school before I started kindergarten I asked to see the library- I even have faint memories of seeing it, although I think it might’ve still been under construction at the time. But the library that I saw at age five isn’t the library in question in the article: that library was replaced with a new one after I went on to middle school and the space was needed for additional classrooms to fit three increasing size of the student body.

So at least there is a trend of growth in my hometown. There were about 250 kids in the school when I went there. Now there are over 400. I haven’t been back to see the school in years- partly because it has gone through studio many renovations and additions that it is completely unrecognizable from a nostalgia standpoint and partly because visiting the school would involve a security screening so stringent that I could probably use it to find out if I have polyps. Thank you, active shooters.

Everybody is talking about active shooters again. Everybody wants a stop to the mass shootings. I mean, I think that they do, anyway: there’s certainly enough hand wringing going on about it, but it keeps happening anyway. And I like to think that it would never happen to me, but really there’s no reason why it couldn’t: I’m attending a big and very expensive University in as extremely competitive program with lots of high stress situations pursuing a field of study that encourages- no, requires a flair for the dramatic… This is not an environment in which to test my invincibility. By the same note, hand wringing doesn’t seem to be doing much good. Thoughts and prayers don’t seem to be doing much good. Everybody wants somebody to do something about it, but everybody is pretty sure that it is somebody else besides them that needs to make the change happen.

After all, what can I, as a single person do to stop these mass shootings?

Well, to start, I can make a commitment to not shoot people. That’s an obvious one, but if common sense were more common then this wouldn’t be an issue to begin with. But a negative action is not an executable action: if it can be accomplished by doing nothing then it isn’t doing anything. So what else? I can prepare myself for active shooter scenarios: know my exits, think through my run, hide, fight alternatives for various locations, constantly be aware of potential weapons, etc. But this only makes a difference if I actually find myself in an active shooter situation and only does me any good if all other prevention has failed. This is only potential action: it only changes the outcome, not the situation itself. Besides, I have too many other things that I want to do with my life than to spend all my time worrying about being a victim. I’m a woman. I already have to do too much of that goddamn nonsense.

So what does that leave me with? Lobbying for legislature change which may or may not solve the problem but will add convoluted laws to an already Byzantine system? Sure, it’s an option. I will make a point of voting. Maybe a more effective option would be looking for people who are struggling and who might need someone to say: you’re ok, come on back in- be part of the group again, because no one wants to shoot up a group of their friends. I wish that connecting with people in this way was something that I was good at- that I would be able to recognize someone in crisis and know what to do to help them, but this is an area that I find very difficult. So I can do it, but I don’t know that it will be very helpful.

I think the best thing that I can do to help is to find ways to provide alternative narratives: to tell stories about heroes who solve their problems constructively instead of with a hail of violence. It may not be much, but it is something that I’m good at and could reach a lot of people.

So that’s how I plan to make a difference. Because I’m someone and I’m going to do something about it.


~ by Gwydhar Gebien on December 5, 2015.

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