When I was young, I attended private schools affiliated with small evangelical churches.
These were not the kinds of elite private schools most people think of. They were tiny institutions paying expenses with bits of wallet lint. I think the last of them had about 120 students across all grade levels, from kindergarten to twelfth grade. I was accustomed to learning in spaces that were clearly Sunday school classrooms and church sanctuaries on the weekend, except for the year I spent in a school that was basically a little trailer park. My teachers made maybe half of what public schools would have paid them. My principal was usually a pastor.
So earlier this week, when a former student targeted the Covenant School, a small Presbyterian elementary school in Nashville, and murdered three children and three adults there, the news meant even more than usual to me. It was far too easy, in an unusually specific way, to imagine being one of those nine-year-olds the shooter targeted—or one of the adult victims, for that matter.
But another thing hit home for me: the toxicity of the rhetoric that came immediately from people across America who weren’t directly affected.Continue reading “Make the World Better and Not Worse”