The Adventurer (13) wants to move to Canada. Her reason is simple. Gun violence in the U.S. is out of control and it isn’t getting better. It’s getting worse. She doesn’t want to live in a country where the people are bent on killing each other.
Her feelings are understandable, considering our proximity to Sandy Hook.
She’s afraid of getting shot while shopping at the mall, at the movies or walking down the street in our small Connecticut town. I assure her she is safe, but she is smart enough to know that I cannot guarantee her safety.
Since the Sandy Hook shooting, there have been 2,552 homicides by firearms in the US and 45 of those victims were children, according to this article at Slate.
So is moving to Canada a better option? In the entire year (2011), there were 173 gun deaths in Canada . That same year in the US, there were 9,146. You can see the statistics here.
I try to convince her, “moving to Canada is not the answer.” But is it, I wonder? It’s not as easy as packing your things and driving north. Still, I don’t feel like I have enough to back up my opinion beyond “our family is here” and “they don’t have Cheesecake Factory” or “you know how I hate the cold.”
The true issue for me at this moment, is how can I help my children feel safe? Can I help them to feel safe enough?
My mind drifts.
I’m sitting at my grandmother’s kitchen table in a metal chair with a green vinyl cushion. The table rests up against a gray paneled wall with an assortment of pictures, a cuckoo clock and a metal plaque. I often repeat the prayer printed on the plaque as I eat at the table.
Bless this house, Oh Lord we pray
Make it safe by night and day.
Papa is sitting across from me, eating shredded wheat with milk and drinking coffee. Nan is to the side of me, generously buttering a slice of slightly burnt toast.
My toes brush the linoleum floor as I swing my legs back and forth. I’m already half way through eating my pancakes dripping in Mrs. Buttersworth syrup.
“Today is the anniversary of Pearl Harbor,” she says, as she takes a bite.
I look up with interest. I’m entranced when my gentle grandmother’s facial expressions change as she shares her memories. She seems to relive the emotions, the fear, shock and horror at the events that changed their lives. They all felt powerless.
I listened carefully, but I didn’t quite understand.
I remembered the look on her face much later, following 9/11. I saw the same look on the faces of the people of NY. I saw that same look again in December on the faces of friends and strangers on the streets of Newtown.
Each generation sees unthinkable evil. The geography and numbers differ, but at the core it’s all the same. It is all suffering.
We get comfortable and think we are above it, beyond it. We want to believe that we are becoming a less violent world, a less violent country. We want to believe that murder, genocide and human trafficking is a thing of the past, but it is not. [Or do we choose to ignore it?] We want to think that our technological innovation and scientific advances make us superior to previous generations.
We are not. I wonder, do our advances merely make us more dangerous to each other?
I don’t mention these thoughts to my daughter as we discuss moving to Canada. Instead, I remind her that there are good people everywhere. There are people struggling to change the world. We can help them.
I remind her that there is hope.
Running from what we fear is not the answer. And I don’t think the answers are hiding in Canada.
I only know that learning to find peace in the midst of uncertainty is a worthy goal. It may be the most important life skill to master.
Focus on it. Hold on to it tight.
Create your own beautiful life right where you are now.
Take the advice of this beautiful woman, celebrating her 109th birthday: