During my first few weeks in Japan, we had “emergency drill” practice at my elementary school. The teachers told me that in 2001 there was an incident at an elementary school in Osaka. Several children were killed and many others injured. Since then, Japanese schools have implemented a safety program which includes practice drills like the one I participated in.
During these drills the students gather together in classrooms and hide behind desks while teachers lock the doors. Other teachers scan the hallways with wooden brooms, their weapon against the bad guys. For our drill, the principal played the attacker, who was fended off into a room, giving the kids time to escape to safety.
The entire event was filmed and reviewed with the students during an assembly after the drill. I stood in the back and looked out over this crowd of adorable, innocent children. Why would anyone want to hurt them? I couldn’t wrap my mind around that idea. I’d only just met them but something in me innately wants to protect them. I thought of the elementary students of Sandy Hook back in America. Why did that horrible day have to happen? Even those students who survived will be forever changed. Their innocence taken.
So I started to cry. In the middle of a safety assembly. On my first day at this school.
Today something horrible happened at a school in my home country. Innocent lives were lost. Again.
This has become far too common place in America.
CNN cut together a montage of Obama’s speeches after each mass shooting that’s occurred in the last few years. There’s so many… Watching this video breaks my heart. The date and location change but the problem remains. We haven’t fixed anything.
I’m so impressed that Japan hasn’t had an incident at a school in over 14 years. It seems like America is struggling to get through a single month without these types of headlines.
I don’t have any solutions to offer this evening. I’m feeling somber and decided to pour my heart out to you internet.
I want to make a request to everyone reading. Do something kind for someone this weekend. Because you never know what problems others may be facing. You don’t know what your small gesture might mean to a broken heart.
Let’s be kind to each other.