Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom: Grateful


 
There was an incident last week at the university where I work: just after lunch we received an alert that a gunman had been spotted on campus. We were "locked down" for over four hours while campus, city and state police, ATF, and FBI agents scoured the university searching for an armed man.
 
For hours, we hid behind locked doors, stayed quiet, stayed alert. Students were held in classes and libraries and interior rooms. It was hard to get a phone call or text message to go through because the networks were so clogged. Most of our information came from social media. As we hid, we listened to news helicopters circle endlessly overhead.
 
Finally, after what seemed like days but was in fact a little over four hours, the "all clear" was sounded. Thankfully no one was hurt. The gunman was not found.
 
The atmosphere on campus has been different since then. The first day, everyone was quiet and people universally complained of being exhausted. It is truly draining to spend four hours in fear. Mostly, though, I notice a general wariness; a cautiousness. It makes me sad that one person could change the climate of an entire campus, and that people can't feel safe in a place of learning.  
 
Rather than dwell on the negative, though, I choose to be grateful.
 
I am grateful for the law enforcement officers who dropped everything at a moment's notice to walk towards the danger and protect us. Thanks to the media we're all numb to the image of officers in bulletproof vests storming buildings, but in person, it's different. It's very real and I can't image the courage it must take.

I am grateful no one in my workplace was hurt or killed that day. We all know that it could so easily have ended differently. We could all be in mourning now, instead of just shaken up.

I am grateful that I live and work in a place in this world where it's not okay to carry an assault rifle around a college campus on a Tuesday afternoon in broad daylight. Where despite the rhetoric and grandstanding of our modern political process, good sense and civility sometimes still prevails.

I don't mean to politicize this post, but I guess I can't help it. Those who oppose gun control can argue to me until the end of time that we're safer with more access to guns; that the answer to violence is to arm more people. But I've been in a lot of places around this world -- some very safe, and some less so. And you know what? I will never believe that more guns will make for a safer world. They never have.

If you've read this far, thanks for "listening."  Just some thoughts I needed to unload after a rough week.  I'm grateful for you, too. :)


     
 *Photo credit goes to my brother, Andrew.  Yes, he took this gorgeous image and yes, I stole it from his Facebook. Hopefully he won't sue me -- he's my brother -- he owes me stuff. :) 
 
 

15 comments:

  1. Wow, what a scary experience. We recently did a work training about what we would do if a gunman came to our building and we all got freaked out just thinking about it, I can't imagine having it really happen! Anyway, I'm so glad to hear everyone is safe. Hugs, -Melissa

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    1. Hi Melissa. Yes, it was scary and quite surreal. We also learned that we aren't as prepared as we thought - it was really chaotic at times. Thanks for commenting! :)

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  2. Ugh, how scary for you and your colleagues. I'm an elementary school teacher and we go through these drills regularly. Even the drills and false alarms are unsettling. Important to practice and learn how to be better prepared...how terrible that your "practice" had to come via a real threat. Yes, something needs to change!

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    1. Thanks Jenny. I think it's most unsettling (to me, at least) when it happens in a school -- a place that should be safe and peaceful.

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  3. Its just mind boggling that these kind of events are becoming part of our daily lives. How stressful, both at the time and now afterward to be on constant guard. Educational institutions should be creative learning facilities and now they have become moving targets for psychos. I wish you some peace.

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  4. Oh, wow, Heather I can't even imagine such an experience. I'm very happy to hear that you and everyone at your school are safe. Thank you for sharing your experience with all of us and you have reminded me to be grateful for this day as well. I have been stressed out about nothing important for the last couple of days and your post has been a definite reality check. Be well.

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    1. I appreciate that, Francine. I agree that the experience helped put everyday annoyances in perspective!

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  5. What an experience you have been through. Your positive attitude has my admiration.

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  6. Oh my goodness. I'm so glad this ended well for your campus. How terrifying!

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    1. It really was. Now that we know it ended well, I can look back and see that it was a good learning experience for the campus -- we have some work to do on procedures. But at the time, it was horrible.

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  7. Hey sweet girl...so glad that you all are alright. I am so sorry that you had to experience that type of fear. Nobody should have to. And good for you for bringing up this point. More guns is not the answer! How beautiful that you chose to be grateful....hoping you have some sunshine this weekend...and rest. Take care

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    1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment. Take care yourself!

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  8. That's the worst. Working in a public library, we have had things like that happen on a smaller scale, and it is terrifying. I'm glad you've chosen a path towards gratefulness. I've found that when crazy things start happening, I'm reminded how often I should forgive little things that I hold on to.

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