PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I'm not going to blog about 9-11. Remembering that morning still feels fresh, like so much grief does. On that day six years ago, my father, to whom I always turned for answers, had none.

That's what I realized yesterday, the core of the ache, the magma of my grief. He's no longer here to tell me what he thinks. I have to do it for myself. I was telling my therapist this, that I have my Top Ten of advisers, and have had my whole life (an ever-shifting list), but he was always the constant, and at the top. Interestingly, I don't really have the rest of the list made out. I'm going to make it, though, to remind myself I'm not alone, and I found it interesting that with his departure, I elevated from somewhere lower to the top. I guess that's all part & parcel with growing up, too.

I think about today's date, and I think about how our country continues to change and the things that make me angry and the things I wish we could change, rapidly. Starting with responsibility. My husband's school has had the police remove two parents, on two separate occasions, from the classroom & school this year. Because these parents aren't really parents, in the responsibility sense of the word. Yes, their DNA fused with another person's DNA, and they biologically produced a child, but they haven't set their own baggage aside in any way to lead by example, to create a safe environment, to understand the need for boundaries and limits and - here it comes again - personal responsibility.

Years ago, I watched the coverage of Columbine in our office, and called James that afternoon, to find out how he felt, what he was thinking. We had just started dating, and I remember thinking that I was glad he taught in an elementary school, not high school. Less tortured teenager angst, just crazy kids. But he's had kids with kill lists, kids who've threatened to bring an AK-47 to school, kids who've pretended to shoot at a teacher with a toy gun. And despite that recklessness at such a young age, we also talked about how he would still have the advantage of age & wisdom, and gun knowledge, and that the chance of this happening was still - well, small. But now we have unhinged parents, who don't understand the difference between retaliation and self-defense, who place undue burdens on their children and abdicate their role as parent and moral compass. And those people make me nervous. Frightened, in fact. He's not in the worst of the worst school districts, either. He still loves his job, and he makes a difference. I just wish for better security, and wish to be able to control it all from ten miles away.

All of this responsibility talk reminds me of something my dad used to say, back when I was a kid, and the IRA was setting off bombs and then calling the media to take responsibility for the bombing. We'd hear the announcer on NPR say something to the effect of "The IRA claims responsibility" and he would snort with anger. "Takes responsibility. Right." And he proceeded to explain to me that they (all terrorists) were in no way taking responsibility. They were responsible for setting the bombs - and guilty of doing something horrendous. Taking responsibility means something different It means atoning and taking care of the survivors, the families and loved ones of the people they'd killed. Doing the right thing in the first place. I still hear the mental argument against the use of that word, in our new and changed world, where terrorism talks to us half a world away with glorification and delight, and where a different kind of terrorism takes place just a few miles away.

What a different, and better world we would have, if only responsibility were the mainstay of our societal fabric.
posted by PlazaJen, 12:17 PM