|I hope and pray that last night’s scare is as close as I come to
a school shooting in my academic career. Ugh. Photo found here.
Last night I sat in a classroom like I’ve done countless times before. Friends to my right and left. Ideas floating between us. The end of a semester hanging not too far in the distance.
And then we got the ASU Alert: “Man with gun. Black male, early 20s, tattoo on right next, black hoodie, dark pants last seen leaving Hassayampa to Lemon. If seen, call 911.”
Our presentations stopped. Fear, prickly and heavy, lodged itself in my gut. We started discussing security procedures. What would Bob McPhee (our former safety officer) say? Run and don’t look back? Shelter in place? Hide?
Our professor Sarah locked the solid classroom door upon which there was an almost immediate knock. I may or may not have gasped. It was an instructor from a nearby office. We laughed to break the tension.
The truth is, it’s not really that startling to see guns in Arizona. An open-carry state, I’ve seen them in line buying ice cream at Safeway, on the way to the gym, trundling down the freeway. In fact, a piece of recent legislation almost made them legal on the ASU campuses. But still. With the Virginia Tech shootings fresh in my mind, I couldn’t help but think about how vulnerable we all were/are.
A few more ASU alerts later, we were given the all-clear, although helicopters still circled feverishly overhead for awhile. I’m glad, as it turned out, that my fear was for naught.
But the situation last night leads to me my biggest Christmas wish… Can we please stop shooting each other? Or threatening to kill each other? Or contemplating killing each other? Or hurting each other in general? I’ve read a dozen heartbreaking stories over the last few weeks… Students killing students. Husbands killing wives. Wives killing children. It’s killing me to think about all of the death and misery of late. Universities, and schools, and homes should be safe places. So, can we just stop it? Please?
Of course, since most of us are probably not going to be drawn to acts of ultimate violence, or may not ever be in a situation to stop a murder, how about we do what’s in our power to do and be nice*. And kind. And loving. And supportive. And helpful. And respectful. And inclusive. What would the world look like then I wonder?
* It’s not lost on me that the ASU Alert came during the final exam period for my class called Communication and the Art of Happiness and Well-Being.