Suffer the little children

Rumours of rumours; and the rub is that in this country, in this time, we cannot dismiss them as rubbish until the day is done and the sun has set over the farthest gate. It should not be this way.

My heart goes out; my heart remembers one day when two of the three were still in high school and there were rumours. One decided to stay at home, and I wept for the anxiety that we have bred and our children bear. One decided to go to school and I wept, watching love walk away from me, the closing doors illuminated by blue and red lights, a mockery of the Christmas lights dancing up and down the neighbourhood. It should not be this way.

When my child was very young, I was tucking her into bed one night, and she was distressed. I asked why, and the reply was that at any moment, an asteroid might smash into the earth and destroy it, ending all life and all knowledge of life in an instant. Rational arguments about probabilities, space stations, forecasts, warnings, and probabilities again did nothing to soothe the young soul. “But you can’t tell me it can’t happen,” she insisted. …
Children already know that the world is dangerous. They do not need their fears magnified; their imaginations will take care of that without encouragement. They see dragons in their sleep.

Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence (Upper Room Books), 89, 91

In Isaiah’s vision of peace, “a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6); but we are not casting the vision before our children of peace but of lockdown drills and guns secreted in backpacks. The guns belong in lockdown, not the children.

In Children Under Fire: An American Crisis, John Woodrow Cox finds that, “If children did not have access to guns, well more than half the school shootings over the past twenty years would never have happened” (p. 291). The guns belong in lockdown, not our children.

About halfway through our march in Cleveland, I found myself on East Ninth Street directly behind a woman with a young child in a backpack carrier like the one I had used when my children were younger. Too small to walk so far, the little one’s legs and feet hung from the carrier, bouncing and dancing with her mother’s stride. A sign attached to the out fabric of the child’s traveling nest said, “My preschool class does lockdown drills.”
I wanted to fall to my knees on the spot and repent of my dismal stewardship of her world, but the crowd swept me on.

Whom Shall I Fear, 95

It is past time to repent. It is no time to be simply swept along. The guns belong in lockdown, not our children.

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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