This past weekend, on the one-year anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, my son turned 16 months old. The juxtaposition of those two events—my contemplation on my son’s life and growth, coupled with my reflection on that tragic day—got me thinking about what type of world I want my son to grow up in. Sadly, it isn’t exactly the world we’re living in now.
The world I want for my son? It’s a world where school is a safe place, where the presence of guns is unthinkable and the presence of metal detectors is unnecessary.
It’s a world in which education is valued, not just through words but also through budgets. What’s more, it’s a world in which teachers are valued—and that includes through their paychecks—because those who educate our children are heroes and deserve to be treated as such.
It’s a world in which children all over the globe—regardless of gender, race, religion, or ability—can satisfy their thirst for learning without fear of violence or discrimination or even death. It’s a world where the right to education is taken seriously because it’s synonymous with the right to freedom and self-sufficiency.
If I had my way, my son’s world would be one in which books weren’t banned.
Someday I want to catch my boy up way past his bedtime because he couldn’t stop turning the pages of a novel. I want him to burst through the door after school, his excitement to share what he learned that day leaving him literally out of breath. I want him to see that even though it’s easier for someone to just give him the answer, discovering it on his own is so much more rewarding.
I want my son’s mind to be forever open to new ideas and opinions and discussions. I want him to understand that knowledge really is power.
Maybe I’m just a dreamer. Maybe my vision is too idealistic, one that sounds nice but only exists in fairy tales.
Or maybe not.
Maybe there’s hope.
What if everyone said thank you to a teacher today? That would be a start, wouldn’t it?
What if every parent read their child a book, not just tonight but every night?
What if every politician pushed aside their own interests and political liabilities and declared that the instruction of our children is paramount? And what if at the same time we empowered our educators to stop just teaching to the test?
What if we all gave just $1 to support the right to education for those children living in oppressive countries where learning is hoarded by those in power rather than shared freely with all who want it?
What if we pulled out all the stops to make our schools safer and more supportive for all students, no matter where they come from or how they look or how they learn.
I may be a dreamer, but that’s the kind of world I want my son to live in.