As an actress, writer, educator, activist, and human being I’m saddened on so many levels.
I can’t help but feel the need to reflect, as I am an educator, I have a responsibility to children - I am relied on to teach them, but after recent events I am once again reminded of the fact that children teach us.
I was dreading going to work today. I was scheduled to teach my Kindergarten through 2nd grade from 9-12 and then teach my high school students from 3-5. As a teaching artist, I have to adapt each day to the energy of the school, being that I am not a full time member of the school community, there is always a bit of an adjustment at the beginning of each visit. Today, I didn’t know what the over all mood of the school would be. I told myself as I was walking into the building that I would be as flexible and understanding as possible, no matter how difficult the day might be. I prepared myself for the worst, but I walked into the best. Another morning of hugs and I love you’s.
Monday mornings I like to give these young excited minds a chance to talk about their weekend. One of my Kindergarten students raised her hand and said “Ms. Brill, I baked cookies with my mom and I cracked a whole egg by myself for the first time!” This made me want to cry, because I immediately thought of the children whose lives where taken, who may have lived their whole lives without cracking an egg, whose parents have been forever robbed of the opportunity to see their children do something for the first time, I thought of the parents who will never get to bring a new experience to their kids. I was overwhelmed with love and compassion and reminded myself to remember to love.
When I work with my students, its very easy to get frustrated at the questions that I cant figure out how to answer more clearly for them, the distractions from my lesson plan, the anxiety over all the people who I continuously try to please with me lessons, the idea of kids just not understanding it - but today, as I was hugged and smiled at and welcomed by my students - I was reminded that all of the things that consumed me were exhausting because I was making everything about me. The students reminded me that the focus is on them, the focus is giving love and support and encouragement and opportunity. It is in these classrooms, in each moment that we can give our kids what they need to become healthy adults, and positive contributions to the world.
They say you have to give love in order to get love, but I wonder what would happen if we set that saying on a global scale. What if, in the wake of tragedy, we don’t search to place blame but we work towards a positive change?
I’m opposed to loose gun laws but Im fearful of our tightening up on gun control, simply because of the use of the word, “control.” I wonder if, rather than searching for something to control after such a tragedy, we search for a freedom. A freedom to love openly, to be ourselves openly. To erase taboo’s from our lives, so that if a person struggling with mental health did feel that they were stigmatized, but could openly address their concerns and their perceived shortcomings. We all struggle and we all have our vices, some people’s vices are alcohol, some drugs, some food, some cigarettes, and tragically, some people’s vices is violence. What if there was no need for vices, what if we could communicate openly without the fear of rejection or the fear of being perceived as weak? This brings me back to the kids, they aren’t afraid to be themselves, they aren’t scared to shout “I love you” across the room to a virtual stranger, or get out of their seat and twirl for no reason, the become scared because social norms are imposed on them, and the love, the openness, the creativity gets smothered.
Where is the love and how can we begin to get it back? I truly pray that this is the final straw, that this horrific event is the darkest things will get and we and our children can awake to a new dawn and a brighter future.