While I can't imagine there are too many people left who haven't grieved in some small way over the events in Newton, Connecticut last month, it seems the tragedy strikes a different chord in different people: mothers and fathers at the thought of losing their own little ones, police and other emergency workers at the thought of being the first responders to what must have been a horrific scene, and, of course, teachers at the thought of jumping into action to protect the children in their care from harm.
Various stories have circulated about the quick-thinking and valiant efforts of Sandy Hook teachers to save their students' lives, but the most noteworthy are the multiple accounts of teachers who deliberately put themselves in the line of fire in an attempt to shield their students from harm. While I'm not sure if these reports have ever been validated, they evoke a pretty morbid question in my mind:
Were I in these teachers places, would I have taken a bullet for my students?
When I'm playing the Worst Case Scenario game in my mind, I'd certainly like to think so. I long to have the steadfast faith of the Columbine High School student who was shot for professing her belief in God and, in theory, I would. But humans are weak, fallen creatures. It is not inherent within us to submit or sacrifice. When it's crisis time, baser instincts kick in and it becomes every man for himself. To be completely raw, no matter how much of my time or talents or possessions I sacrifice for others, I can never fully extinguish the innate desire to self-serve. So, I can't begin to comprehend the split-second decision to potentially offer it ALL up in one move.
But when it comes to children, it's a completely different story. When I'm babysitting for friends, or helping take care of my nephew and nieces, or helping my students with their work, or interacting with children in any form, the thought of personal gain is washed away. Children are so precious and are assigned to all of
our care--so precious that even the incredibly busy, earthly Jesus made them a priority (Matthew 19:13-15). Completely lovable or a pain in the rear end: they all deserve our protection.
As I watched one of my students skip happily to get supplies for the project he was working on today, I knew that, Yes--were an intruder to ever enter that classroom, I couldn't help but make myself the first line of defense for those children. I imagine the Sandy Hook teachers that defended their students were simply following the drive that had brought them to their career in the first place: loving children unconditionally.