February 12th, 2013

Egrets Reading

Safety - How much is too much?

In this world where a terrorist might fly a plane into a building or a former cop might kill family members of other cops he has issues with, how far do we need to go to protect the lives of innocents?

My current job as a technical consultant means that I fly all the time. Airport security is something I deal with constantly. Take off the shoes, shed the jacket, belts. Strip off anything that might set off an alarm. Remove the laptop from the case, take off the jangling bracelets. Move the necklace so it hangs down my back instead of my front. This has become routine. Does it make me safer? I don't know.

the TSA agent
inspects my medication
spring melancholy

(originally published in bottle rockets, Aug 2012)

Yesterday (and today), my children's former elementary school closed its doors because of the fear of a threat to the pastor of the church, the brother to a person named in an ex-cop's manifesto. On the surface, this seems extreme, but when you dig deeper into the situation, it makes sense.

But, at what cost? And, how do we decide what is safe? In a society that can produce a Sandy Hill, are school safety concern closures going to multiply like snow days in a Minnesota blizzard?

Do we need to build 15 foot steel fences around schools? Do we need to homeschool everyone, creating virtual schools instead of actual classrooms? Once you start down this path, where do you stop?

It's not that I think Holy Angels made the wrong decision. Closing the school for a few days doesn't hurt anyone and it does give the Arcadia PD and the school time to come up with a safety strategy. If my children were still young enough to be students there, I would welcome a few "no school" days, if nothing else, to be able to spend time with my children and assure them that things were ok.

It reminds me that Holy Angels School closed the day of the Whittier Earthquake, when Kirk was in kindergarten. Our house was a 1913 Craftsman and it creaked with every movement of the earth and the kids were frightened. I remember taking them for a walk around the block and we looked at how normal all of the houses looked. You wouldn't know there had been an earthquake. When my husband came home from work, Sean, who was about 4, said something like, "Daddy, there was an earthquake under the house. We went for a walk and when we came back, it was GONE!" I never forgot the relief on his face.

So, with all of the media attention to this manhunt, having the school closed for a few days to satisfy parents' safety concerns and to allow the parents time to work with their kids so that they aren't frightened by what they see on television, makes sense. But, then, are the kids in any danger at all? Who knows? But, if it were your child, wouldn't you want to make sure they weren't?

Where does it end, though? Children need to go to school and no one wants to go to school in a fortified prison. We can't keep schools closed indefinitely. We need to hop on planes, live our lives.

the second day
of the school closure
winter berries