I was holding my five-year-old son’s hand in his school’s parking lot yesterday afternoon when he casually pointed to the sidewalk. “That’s where we go line up when the fire bell rings, but we don’t go there when there are bad guys. When there are bad guys we hide in the bathroom.”
Like many kids his age, The Professor isn’t always up for gabbing about every single thing that happens at school, but if you catch him at the right time he’ll chat for hours. Yesterday he just happened to want to tell me all about a lockdown drill his class had. “If the bad guys are outside we just lock the doors, but if the bad guys come inside we go into the bathroom so they can’t see us,” he said.
He’s five years old, and his school is running lockdown drills. And I’m very glad they are.
I didn’t have to worry about that when I was a kid. We had a lot of fire and tornado drills, but the concept of hiding in a bathroom for any reason wasn’t even on the radar. It would have been inconceivable.
I hear parents my age lament quite often about the good old days when we were growing up. “We need to stop coddling kids these days. They just need to get outside and play more! I drank from a garden hose, ate bologna and played outside all day! Why don’t kids just do that? Heck, I just rolled around in the backseat without a seat belt – and look at me, I turned out fine!”
Yeah, I remember those days, too. I played with my brothers and our friends in our backyard with all the neighbor kids from the moment the school bus dropped us off until supper time. We were adventurous but safe. I was never scared. There wasn’t much that a band-aid couldn’t cure.
But my school didn’t have Bad Guy drills.
We live in a different world today, and the least useful thing to do is to talk about the good old days. I hear people talk about kids these days as if the little minions caused the issues. Is it my five-year old’s fault that school shootings are more common than fires in schools? Is it my ten-year-old neighbor’s fault that he is allergic to nuts? Is it my two-year-old niece’s fault that one of every 70 of her classmates will be on the autism spectrum?
It’s not their fault. If we are willing to be honest and take some responsibility for the world we are giving our children, it’s more likely that it’s our fault. We are the ones that created this society of rage, violence, insecurity and fear. We are the ones that are birthing the children with the illnesses that didn’t seem so prevalent when we were growing up. We are the ones raising the young adults that sass their teachers and bring guns to movie theatres.
The flip side to my “Good Enough” quest is to recognize when the status quo is simply unacceptable and to accept responsibility for the role I have played in shaping today’s world. I don’t have all the answers, but I am not content to bury my head in the sand and pretend that it’s someone else’s fault, someone else’s responsibility or someone else’s problem. It’s my fault, my responsibility and my problem simply because I am a member of this society.
I did something today. I voted. I read a bit about the candidates and the current issues, filled out three little bubbles on a ballet and dropped it off at our Town Hall. It required less effort than reading a post on BuzzFeed about 24 movie stars that have aged terribly, and it might have actually made an impact on my local government. It was a little thing, but every little thing matters when it comes to shaping our future.
I don’t want to be blamed for the bad things going on in our world, but I don’t see any use in pointing fingers outward, either. I helped my generation shape our current society, so it’s my responsibility to help fix the things that are broken.
What can we do to fix things? We can start by being open to the idea that we actually have played a part. When we see an article that challenges our current way of thinking about a subject, we can read it with an open mind. Then, when we see an action we can take, we can take it. That’s the only way things will get better.
“Unless someone like you cares an awful lot / Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – The Lorax
I know you care. I know you can make a difference.
Maybe someday there won’t be a need for Bad Guy drills in our children’s schools.