When there’s a school shooting, people who know I used to work in a school inevitably reach out to me. “How does this happen,” they ask. “How do you feel?”
I was a student teacher when Columbine happened. I worked with 10th graders. When I walked into school the next day, my co-teacher said, “I think you should debrief this with them.”
“Why?” I said. Not that I didn’t think it merited discussion – it did, and still does – but why me, with my relative inexperience.
“If they see you’re not broken,” she said gently, “they won’t be broken. I work here. I have to put on the brave face. But if they know that you aren’t quitting, they won’t quit.”
I think that maybe that’s the answer. We cannot let senseless acts of violence break us. We cannot quit. We do not stop practicing kindness and courage and compassion. We refuse to let a hard world make us hard. We hold the ones we love tight and say a prayer for our neighbors, and we continue to believe in a better world. We continue to make a better world.
I refuse to be broken.
I will not quit.
And I will light a candle as a way to ward off the darkness.