The Most Natural Thing (Unfortunately)

Manifestation contre la guerre Israélienne à Gaza

Manifestation contre la guerre Israélienne à Gaza (Photo credit: looking4poetry)

What I have to say may come off as calloused and cruel, so I want to make it clear  that I had a hard time of it yesterday. Just thinking about those kids and their teachers, even now I am ready to return to tears. Yesterday my heart broke a little, like it does every time something like this happens.
As often is the case whenever we are faced with one of these horrific events we start to hear the mantra “a parent should never have to bury their child.” It is a statement with which I agree with every fiber of my being. I am less willing to accept, however, the common addendum to that statement: “it’s unnatural.” I wish  it were true, but it is not.
Oh, it’s true enough for those of us living in the so-called developed world, especially if we are white. If you are a white parent living in America you can expect to see your children grow up and eventually provide you with grandchildren (that reward for all the hard work: spoiling that next generation so your kids have to work at least as hard as you did.) I know this sounds cruel, and again neither the parents or children in the Sandy Hook tragedy deserved any of this, but this is why it stings for so many in America. White children aren’t supposed to die.
Black children in America, however do. They die in accidents in poor housing. They die of treatable diseases because the health center is crowded. They die because they wear a hoodie in the wrong neighborhood. They die because the cops take their sweet time responding to a domestic disturbance in poor neighborhoods. They die all the time and it never makes the news. Even they have it better than many children abroad.
Children in other countries starve to death with frightening regularity. They die of exposure. They are killed by American bombs, or at the hands of one side or the other in a conflict. Way to often they die in the workplace. Life is so precarious for so many of the world’s children, that a parent burying their child is the most natural thing one can imagine.
I’m not asking you to not mourn those children in Connecticut. I mourn them. I am asking that this time, and every other time that some lunatic mows down a bunch of kids in a supposedly safe environment that you remember, and mourn, those children that die around the word, who do not have the benefit of a safe environment. Shed a tear for those children for whom these sorts of things are not tragedies, but an all too familiar reality. Cry for them too, and ask, “how can we stop all of this madness?” Because it is natural, but it shouldn’t be.


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