The Sandy Hook tragedy made me remember my last day of fifth grade, when three law-enforcement officers were shot in Cortez, my safe little home. I slept on my parents' floor for days afterward because I was so terrified of what had happened and what could possibly still happen. My heart sank for those children at Sandy Hook on Friday. I'm 25 years old and I can remember my last day of fifth grade in such detail it seems like yesterday, and I know many of my classmates remember it too.
While our nation is mourning, we also are headed into deep conversations on many issues. All of those topics need to be discussed, but there is one thing I think we should focus a little harder on right now, and that is teaching compassion.
Grab ahold of your children, tell them you love them, and tell them that there will always be bad people in this world but they shouldn't be afraid. Tell them that at some time in their life, someone might ask for help, and if they can, they should help them, even if that means listening to their complaints on a bad day or just smiling at a passerby. Rather than teaching them they need a gun to protect themselves for the rest of their lives, teach them that people are generally good. Teach them that guns are OK but they need to be handled with utmost care. Teach them that they can be wonderful contributors to this world by just being their free-spirited little selves, smiling their happy smiles, laughing with their friends, and loving those around them. Don't teach them fear. Teach them responsibility, teach them compassion, teach them love, and teach them that this world, no matter the tragedies they will see in their lifetime, is an amazing place. I don't have children, but someday I will, and that is exactly what I hope they learn from me, as that is exactly what I have learned from my parents.