Monday, 17 December 2012

It couldn't happen here.

So here I am, breaking the radio silence. It's been a while. Some of you have probably guessed that things haven't been good with me. The sciatica triggered a serious episode of anxiety and depression, which I am now trying to tackle, and while I am not out of the woods yet, I've been ordered by The Doctor to write a blog post before everyone thinks I've dropped off the face of the earth. (I don't want to go into all the details, so if you want to know how I am, you can email me separately).

I wanted to write about the appalling events in Connecticut, in a town that sounds similar to ours - affluent, picturesque, the kind of place where "those kind of things don't happen." I actually remember a local mother here talking about mass shootings once, and she even said she thought it would never happen in this town. "Why not?" I asked. "All you need is one weird loner with access to a gun, and it could happen anywhere."

What happened is just beyond belief, and while I don't want to dwell on the details, I want to record the effects on our own community. Everyone is shocked, scared and feeling just a little apprehensive as we send off our children to school in the morning. Emails are flying around - guidelines from the school district on how to talk to our children about this tragedy, questions from local mothers asking which schools have video surveillance, reassurances from the schools about security. When I picked up the boys from school on Friday, there was a police car in the car park. Everyone seems unsettled, and naturally, devastated for the community in Newtown, Connecticut.

But the reality is, nothing has changed. It is no more dangerous sending our children to school this week than last. Statistically speaking, our children are more likely to get run over by a car than attacked at school. While everyone is now calling for gun laws to be changed, what's the betting that in the end America does nothing about this? After all, it has happened so many times before, and in the end the gun lobby wins out. (Even now, we are hearing people calling for teachers to be armed. I mean, WTF?).

The fact remains that it is too easy to get hold of a gun in the US. I'd like to think that in other countries (including the UK), a young loner with serious mental health problems but no criminal connections would have found it much harder to get hold of a weapon. Yes, there will always be people who will find a way to commit these acts. But surely there are ways to stop it happening so frequently.

There are many things I love about America. I love our boys' school, and the fact that everyone in this town goes to the same high school, a good school, not private. But at this moment, I am relieved that they won't be continuing their education there. There is just no way of saying "it couldn't happen here".


UrsulaH said...

Glad to have you back!

Sarah said...

As an American expat living in Esher and my kids going to ACS cobham you hit it right on the money. This is a real problem in the USA and I don't think anyone will do anything about it! It is unreal and very scary! All the best and I hope you feel better soon!

MsCaroline said...

I was *so* glad to see your comment on my blog post, I didn't even read it, but came right on over to *see* you (will head back to do it later!)

I've been looking for you on line and had my suspicions as to what had been going on - I'm so sorry they were confirmed, but I want just encourage you to hold on. Things *will* get better. I know what it's like to go from cycling 75-150 miles a week to just being barely able to totter from the bed to the toilet, and I imagine that what you're experiencing is similar or worse, but do know it will - eventually - improve. I hurt myself at the end of May and was still not 'right' by December. I was better, but not back to normal by any means. And I remember getting told off more than once by DH because I was always doing things that I should not have done - simply because it broke my heart to think that I couldn't do something like bringing in a bag of dog food from the car or standing for a couple of hours at the boys' swim meets.

I thought of you when I heard about the CT shootings, because I know that the community you live in is very similar- and not too far away. Of course, having taught for so many years, I have lived through more than a few of these things, and I also know that tensions and anxieties are heightened in every school in the US as people scramble to try and figure out how to prevent more such events.
I have tried and tried to understand the mentality that allows people to look at the fact that our chances of dying from gun-related injuries in the USA are about 30x higher than they are in the UK - but still insist that gun control laws won't change anything. People have only to look across the border at Canada to see that yes, it can be successful - and close to home.
Glad to hear you back, and thank the Doctor for all of us who have been thinking of you and sending many good thoughts your way.

Clare Taylor said...

It is appalling, what's happened, but what I find almost worse is the outright refusal amongst many US citizens of my acquaintance here in Moscow to accept that there is a problem.

The statistics are staring them in the face (between 9K and 10K gun related deaths a year in the US vs, for example, 41 in the UK), and yet they are not prepared to even consider the possibility that it might have anything to do with the ease of access to guns. They blame everything else - society, mental illness, lack of understanding and respect for weapons - all of which I'm prepared to accept may be partly to blame, but which exist everywhere in first world countries without the horrifically high number of deaths that I mentioned earlier.

As I said to someone yesterday 'You guys are smart, world leaders in so many things; how can it be that you can't get a hold on this?' But they just don't see it as a solveable problem, for some reason. And yet, it is. Just get rid of the damn' guns.

Sorry to rant and hijack your comment box - feel free to delete if you're unhappy with this being in here, will totally understand if you do since, as you know, I have not been this forthright on my own blog!

Lynda said...

I am a teacher in Australia and have found some of the quotes in our media about the shootings as totally disturbing. One person from a shooting lobby in the US was quoted as saying that if the principal had a gun she could have shot first - for heavens sake!!! We have yearly practices here for emergencies but with the expectation it will be a bushfire - not someone with a gun - that we will be coping with.Long may it stay that way - (not that I want to cope with a fire either!)

Nota Bene said...

It is truly unimaginable to think that could happen.

Glad your doctor suggest you wrote a blog must be really hard for you at the moment...thinking of you


Paradise Lost In Translation said...

Hi NVG. I was hoping to hear from you on this subject. Had been thinking of you & imagining how you must be feeling about it. Also sorry to hear you've been in the doldrums. Do hope things get better soon.

angie said...

long time reader but hve never commented - delighted to see you back blogging, here's hoping you get some respite from the grimness.

Linda said...

Teachers with guns, I could not believe reading that, besides all the other very bad things that would mean what would it say to our young children to see teachers with guns.

Bush Mummy said...

One of the first things I did when I heard about Newtown was check on you. I couldn't remember where you lived, and when I saw an English boy had been involved my mind went into overdrive.

So sorry to hear you have been having a bit of a time of it, and hope that you are on the mend. Sounds like you will also be glad to see the back of 2012.

Hugs and Merry Christmas from Shepherds Bush, W12.

BM xx

Jan said...

I'm also a long-time reader who has not commented before -- but hearing that you've had such a low time makes me send wishes for better times.

(And I too am appalled at the recent shootings. I live 2 miles from the mall where the shootings happened a few days before they were eclipsed by the school shootings. Does anyone remember that Million Moms March used to be a gun control group? Now Million Moms seem to be a group that opposes equal rights for gay people! We will have to keep the pressure on to reduce gun access - there are many who are counting on us to forget.)