I spent the better part of this weekend avoiding the news, facebook, Twitter…anything that would tell me about the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I sat on the couch Friday night with my roommate, an elementary school teacher, and cried. I cried on and off all day Saturday while painting my dining room. I cried Sunday no matter what I was doing.
This blog helps me reflect on my life as a teacher by making my thoughts analogous to the world of Harry Potter. I am sure it seems silly to some of you that a grown woman is filtering her life through a lens of Potter, but it helps me think and articulate myself.
I come back to several key moments in the series in this tangle mess of thoughts:
1) Harry’s enchantment, which lives in his very skin, of protection against Voldemort because of his mother’s sacrifice of herself to save him.
2) Severus Snape’s willingness to play lap dog to Lord Voldemort for so many years to save the son of a woman he loved and a man he hated, and, ultimately, the rest of the children of the wizarding world as well.
3) Sirius Black’s self-sacrifice to save Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Luna and Neville in the Department of Mysteries.
4) Dumbledore’s calm, diligent search for answers (and Horcruxes) in the last year of his life, knowing full well that if the curse from the Gaunt ring didn’t kill him, Draco Malfoy or, as Dumbledore knew would be the case, Severus Snape would.
5) Snape’s willingness, no matter how reluctant at points, to put himself into exile and live in the nest of darkness at Malfoy Manor, to bring about the end.
6) The loss of Hedwig, Remus Lupin, Nyphadora Tonks, Mad Eye Moody, Alice and Frank Longbottom, Colin Creevy, Lavendar Brown (?), Fred Weasley, Dobby the Elf, Severus Snape, and so many others during the Battle of Hogwarts to allow Harry the time and space to a) track down the unknown Horcrux, b) destroy said Horcrux, c) track down Voldemort, d) get “killed”, e) give Neville the opportunity to kill Nagini, and f) finally, by allowing Voldemort’s own evil to rebound upon him, destroy Voldemort.
Would any parent make a call different than Lily’s? Unfortunately, I believe yes, some might. But those who don’t give their children a future that others can only dream of.
Sometimes, we care about the children in front of us, and don’t always realize the impact we can have on those we can’t see. Snape created a ripple effect, which made a difference in the life of not just Harry, not just Snape’s current students, but all the students to come, the Wizarding Children around the world who would have one day fallen under Lord Voldemort’s juristiction, and the children not yet born.
As Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black pledged himself early on to protect and care for Harry. As a teacher, I made a pledge, years ago, to protect, care for and teach all the students who come into my room in near and far future years. The six made a foolish choice to go to the Department of Mysteries, but their teachers and protectors still loved them and cared for them. As a teacher, I encourage them toward greatness, but understand that they will lose their way from time to time.
Sometimes, we know there’s unpleasantness ahead of us (an angry parent schedules a meeting, a building move, our own personal tragedies) and yet we carry on as teachers. We leave it at the door and focus on our kids, investing in their future. Dumbledore did the same. He knew what he had to do, and he did it, regardless of it being a thankless job.
Teachers who elect to teach in districts where violence rages, drugs rum rampant, parent/student and administrator apathy runs high amaze me. They willingness put themselves in positions to be ridiculed, tormented, sometimes threatened and harrassed, to give their students hope for a brighter future.
This last point, number six, is where I connect directly back to CT and the shooting. Students and staff alike lost their lives on 12/14/12, when one man felt his rights, his desires, and his hatred trumped those of others. He was without apathy, unable to love anyone else, and beyond having consequences for his actions which provided sufficent motivation not to do them. Voldemort’s weapon was his Yew wand and the “Advada Kedavra.” The shooter’s were guns. Almost immediately after the shooting, the Americans who believe strongly in their right to bear arms took to demanding protection of the 2nd Amendment. The Americans who believe strongly in gun control took to demanding gun control. I took to pondering what teachers can do in their classrooms except hide their students, lie to a shooter, cover your kids, and pray.
The teachers of Hogwarts, both time Death Eaters came knocking, did not cower. They fought back, using their wands to cast protective spells, defensive spells, spells designed to disarm or to stun. And, when those did not prove to be enough to stop the evil of the Death Eaters, the teachers and parents of Hogwarts (Molly Weasley who I’m thinking of specifically), took to fighting to kill, finally destroying Bellatrix while Bellatrix taunted her.
I do not believe that just anyone should be allowed to bear arms, but I do not think that disarming the people will protect them in the long run. Having one question on a conceal and carry application regarding mental illness, without a complete psychartic work up, does nothing. We do need stronger gun regulation, and if anyone is going to squawk about their rights being violated because we seek to keep the guns out of the hands of those without empathy, without a moral compass, they need to lose their right. And I do not believe that leaving teachers helpless to hide their students, to cower with their students, and to pray for their students is enough. I don’t believe that every teacher should be armed: I do, however, believe that when an active shooter enters a school, every teacher, paraprofessional, custodian, secretary, principal, etc. becomes another person to fight for the lives of the students. You come into a school with the intention of harming children, you deserve to be shot. If a disarming/wounding shot doesn’t slow you down, then those fighting to get rid of you ought to start shooting to kill.
There’s a lot of gray area here, but it won’t end with one person, just as Harry alone could not have ended the Wizarding War or stopped Voldemort. Voldemort recruited those who shared his beliefs and philsophies. It was Molly who finally took down Bellatrix. It was Neville who destroyed Nagini, Dumbledore who destroyed the Gaunt Ring, Hermione who destroyed the Hufflepuff Cup, Ron (at Harry’s encouragement) who destroyed the locket. We have to be willing to protect our students, to fight to protect them, but we must also raise a generation of students who are willing to make the ulitmate sacrifice (as Harry was willing to do) to save others.