My eyes are heavy after a sleepless night and tears come easily this morning. At 10:30 am today my son Noah, a High School senior, and many of his classmates have decided, as of last night, to buck the school administration and walk out of school to join the First National Protest For School Safety.
Are they safer protesting inside the school building or outside? The administration proposed a quiet gathering in the inner courtyard. As an adult, this seems like a reasonable compromise. But, this isn’t a reasonable issue and few High School students are going to accept “subtle activism”. It’s too passive.
They want to march and carry signs and shout out their outrage and demand that their rights for safety and protection be honored. They want to change gun laws, they want to be seen, they want their voices heard. Their lives have been needlessly threatened too many times by gun violence. As a mom I’m on board with them. I’ll gladly march with them but my son says, “NO PARENTS. This is our march!” This is their time. The administration has threatened to suspend any student who leaves the building. The students say they have a constitutional right to march.
I just received a text and a few photos from Noah. “Guess what? I’m alive!” he says. They look happy and empowered. Seventy students marching down the sidewalk! I feel proud and of course concerned for their safety. They are out in the open with no protection but each other, which, to anyone wanting to unload a grievance with an Ar-15 would be a heyday. Is it safer inside the school building? School shootings tend to be carried out by those who are familiar with the territory. They know the loopholes making it almost impossible to completely secure a school building.
My older son was in High School following the Sandy Hook Massacre. He and his classmates took it upon themselves to create escape routes in every classroom they were in so they wouldn’t be “sitting ducks”. How have our schools become battlegrounds? As a long time educator and lover of school community, I’m saddened by the complexity of this situation. No student should have to fear for their life going to school and no parent should have to worry whether or not their children will make it home alive. Schools are supposed to be sanctuaries where children of all ages can learn and grow safely.
In the yogic tradition, safety and protection are the foundational pillars of all life. These are the roots upon which we build healthy relationships. These are basic rights and powerful parental instincts. Even though Noah is a strong, capable young man and towers over me in height, I want to protect him from harm. My motherly instincts are forever strong.
What if the school administration suspends the protesters? How will that affect their futures? Most of the marchers are seniors actively receiving college admission letters. Will their acceptances be revoked if they have “school suspension” on their records?
My tears continue to flow as my mind grapples with the unknown and my heart breathes into larger spaces in an effort to digest all that I’m experiencing.
We either bow the to NRA or we bow to our YOUNG, PEACEFUL WARRIORS.
My choice is clear. And in choosing to support one of the most powerful movements in our nation’s history, I realize that I have to let go of control over how, where or when my son chooses to be involved and trust his journey. They’ve made a bold statement today and change will follow.
In the midst of not knowing, I am drawn to quiet spaces, to gentle yoga practice and silent meditation and in this, I remember…that the most powerful prayer in the Universe is a Mother’s Prayer. I pray with my breath, with my heart, with tears for my son’s safety, for the safety of each of my children and all children. I begin to chant, Poota Mata Kee Asees, which in the Kundalini Yoga tradition, is The Mother’s Blessing, and I imagine a protective beam of love flowing from my heart to Noah’s heart.