The right not to pack at school
By angela choberka
I respectfully reserve the right not to bear arms. As a teacher of elementary-aged children I have been contemplating my role in their lives and my place in our society in light of the recent horrors that have caused some to begin training to carry arms into their classrooms.
I feel a bit torn as to whether I should let my opinion loose as I don't want to seem unaffected by the trauma we have all faced.
But here is my stance: I have the right not to bear arms. Without placing value judgments and/or criticisms on my colleagues who believe otherwise, I believe deeply in nonviolence. This is what my life's work is grounded in. Although the day-to-day practice of this philosophy does seem a bit radical and slow to change the world, this is my plight.
Each day I make small efforts and gains in helping small human beings reach their fullest potential. Humanity has such seeds of possibility planted in the fertile soil of childhood. If we can teach children to trust themselves, to believe in themselves, and to take chances with their ideas, then their futures will be amazing and beyond our jaded comprehensions. These children see the possibilities that lie ahead rather than terror.
I do not deny that there are monsters who would take away these precious gems of life. But I am not willing to carry a weapon in order to defend against them. I hope that I would be able to use my own body and mind in order to protect those I love, but I cannot predict what would happen in that case.
How can one know what to do in all situations when the situations are incomprehensible to begin with? As a lay person I do not carry a gun around my home with me at all times. My reality as I prepare the evening meal does not include a scenario wherein I need to raise a weapon toward a guest.
Am I not living up to the expectations of what a teacher should be? Some say teachers need to be role models; they need to teach academics to a level that passes the test; they need to teach students to become civil-minded citizens of the world; they need to treat each child as an individual and yet get everyone "done" at the same time on schedule.
Teachers are said to be angels, heroes, and now armed protectors. I say no. It is too much to ask.
Angela Choberka has been an educator for over 10 years, the past six as a teacher at a private Montessori school in Ogden. She also teaches English to college students.
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