Dear Reader: Imagine the Fear
Trigger Warning. This is about school shootings and puts you in the perspective of a student.
This piece involves mental imagery and imagination. Not the imagination that we are shaped to have, but an imagination that is full of grief and darkness. Unless you were homeschooled as a child, I assume most people reading this have experienced high school. Whether you were the “nerd,” “jock,” or “burn out,” you were part of a community. This community was invented to help shape young children into young adults. With structured schedules the children, of all different identities, were blended together.
In a perfect world, high school would have no cheating, bullying, or cliques. In a perfect world, everyone would appreciate each other and use each other for advice and support. However, in the real world, high school students are met with a jumble of negatives. Kids get bullied for their personalities, their appearance, their race, religion, sexuality, and gender. For years we have noticed this behavior, yet adults have not taken the proper actions.
High school is full of different tensions. The tensions of who has the best GPA, who is more popular than the rest, friendship feuds, relationship feuds, and much more. But regardless of all of these issues and tensions, some of us are able to pull through. Sadly, some believe that choosing to exit this world is a better option than staying to see the future. This is not okay.
Now that we have that piece of imagery of the real world that is high school, I would like you to imagine yours. What does the front of your school building look like? What do you first see and do once you have entered? Imagine your normal routine. Once you have gathered all your books and supplies for the day imagine going to your favorite class. Remember what it is like to dodge people in the crowded hallways and the few minutes before the bell rings, where you sit in your classroom, sitting backwards in your chair, and enjoying laughs with your classmates. The bell rings and you face the front. As you think about the rest of your day, it all looks the same. Go to multiple classes, have lunch, and continue the rest of your classes for the day. You are relaxed because you have been doing school since you were little. You are focused on your teacher and are ready to learn.
While your teacher is sharing a lecture presentation a loud BANG is heard. Everyone in the class pauses for a second, but brushes it off and assumes it is something unimportant. Your teacher starts to pick up where they left off when two more loud BANGS are heard. Concern starts to creep up on everybody’s faces. After taking a deep breath, the teacher calmly speed walks to the classroom door. Fear is spreading through everyone's bodies. You feel a warm rush as your adrenaline begins to kick in. You look around wide-eyed at your classmates who are producing a hum of whispers. As more loud BANGS are heard from near outside the class door everyone realizes what is truly happening. There is a school shooter. You and your classmates all trip over each other while rushing to get to the farthest corner of the class, as your teacher turns off the lights and tries to keep everyone calm, just like the numerous drills. Sweat is starting to escape your pores and drips down your face. You are clutching your hand tightly to someone next to you who you don’t really know. As the loud BANGS get closer the more fear arises in your body. You become nauseous while also trying to keep your sobs quiet. The BANGS are closer. They are outside your classroom. Everyone including your teacher is huddled down near the ground hoping that the shooter will not target your class.
This hope is soon torn away when one of the windows in the door to the class are shot out. Everyone in the class shrieks, the kind of shriek that you would find in a horror movie. The shooter continues to shoot through the door, striking two of your classmates. One, known for being the class clown and who also could cheer people up, dies instantly. As you watch them take their last breath you are sob uncontrollably, along with the rest of your class. One of your classmates screams the name of the second person hit. Since they are farther away, no one can try and help stop the bleeding. You sit there feeling helpless to the fact that now you are forced to watch a friend die.
We all know how this story ends. A large body count is revealed to the public and the media has a field day. Every network is covering the story; CNN, New York Times, FOX, and local channels. Press staff and helicopters surround the school trying to get first looks. Medics are rushing every which way trying to tend to the wounded.
I now want you to imagine your teenage self emerged in this chaos. How do you feel? You are probably still filled with fear as to who may have been killed and where your parents may be.
This is NOT a normal high school day. However, in this country, it is slowly starting to become one.
No matter your political party, style of raising, or religious views, think of yourself in that situation. Not as parent but as a student. Imagine terror running through your veins. It isn’t a nice feeling is it?
Well that is what millions of kids have experienced or are scared of experiencing in this country. Our country’s children, your children, your friends’ children, and even your neighbors’ children, fear for their lives.
Today, we have a stronger community of students than has ever existed. This community is not one school, not one school district, not one state. This community is MILLIONS of children who have formed together to try and keep each other alive.
If you are someone who is against the gun reform that is starting to take place, I want you to reimagine the above “scenario.” I want you to look deep inside yourself. Do you honestly believe that a mechanical object is more important than the lives of your country’s children? It is that simple. There is no need to pull in thoughts full of complications. It is a question that is filled with only a few words, but is also a question that is going to determine, not only the lives of these children, but the future of our country. I urge you to vote for people that can help us take the steps that we need to make our schools and streets, safe.
Thank you for reading.