I had every intention in the world to write about something else today until I saw last night’s episode of Glee. Don’t worry. I’m not going to talk about the show, but my reaction to the episode. [Spoiler Alert: If you didn’t see last night’s episode, I am about to reveal plot details.]
Glee is set in a high school and the episode involved a school shooting. Our news has been filled with school shootings. I’ve read the stories and felt sympathetic for the parents and children, but I don’t think I got the full impact until now. I’ve always equated Glee to what I call, “cheesy goodness,” so it was very shocking to witness such a serious subject. But, what affected me were the tense moments after the gunshots.
The handful of main characters were in the choir room getting ready to practice when the shots rang out. There were screams and you could hear people running. The teacher turned the lights off and instructed the children to get on the floor. I could understand the fear and tension as they sat listening and waiting. They didn’t know if someone was going to walk into the room and start shooting. For awhile it was very quiet, but then there were hurried footsteps and someone pulling at the locked handles of the doors to the room. I felt myself holding my breath while feeling like I was on the verge of tears.
Some of the students were missing. One teenager was in the bathroom standing on the toilet while listening for the noises outside the bathroom. Tears were streaming. The students were sending texts to loved ones to share last messages, if they never saw them again. One student recorded a goodbye message on his phone’s video camera for his parents and then several other students followed. Every noise sent chills running through you as you didn’t know if someone was going to walk into the room and shoot the students. We return to the student in the bathroom. She sees feet appear outside the bathroom stall and my heart dropped. Luckily, it was a teacher coming in to move the children to a safer location. Finally, the police move in and let the students know that it is safe for them to leave. No one is harmed.
Violence is not power, but the absence of power.- Ralph Waldo Emerson
But, in those moments, I gained a new understanding. I can still remember high school. I remember anxiety about grades, prom, and even graduating. But, I don’t ever remember having to fear being stalked by a gunman. No child should have to deal with that fear or that memory. The most we should ask them to care about as high school students is grades. And, I thought about how the children who experience it are forever changed. They have no guarantee of safety. Their world is one filled with the possibility of extreme violence.
If your children watch Glee and you don’t, you may want to talk to them about the show they saw last night. Some may say it’s too soon for an episode like this. I say it’s not soon enough. On the same day this episode aired, there was a shooting outside a high school in Philadelphia where three students were shot and a 17 year old was killed. School is supposed to be a place our children go to learn. So, what are we teaching them?
“In violence, we forget who we are” – Mary McCarthy
Did you see the episode? What are your thoughts? What are your solutions? Share in comments.