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My 95-year-old dad always asks this question when he begins an important conversation: “I could be wrong. Could you be wrong?”  

Lizanne Wilson Credit: Submitted

The other day, one of my students asked me, “Why do you keep in touch with so many of your former students?”

Another student responded quietly, “Because she loves them.”

I do.

When news of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, came to light, I repeated the same thought process I do when I’ve heard similar news: I thought of the children and then my thoughts turned to the many other victims through the years: parents, teachers, administrators and staff.

Then, I thought about my kids – not my personal children who are (thank God) no longer in school – but my middle schoolers, the students in grades five through eight who are in the drama classes I teach.

It’s difficult to put into words. I understand that  adolescents need first to feel safe and then to feel loved in order to learn. Their brains are not fully developed and they are a combination of brilliance, raw potential and outrageously impulsive behavior mixed all together in one complex package.

Loving one’s students is not unusual for a teacher, not at all. We love our students – each in our own way. But now we know that as part of our job, when we enter a classroom, we might have to choose to stand between a school shooter and our school children. We might even have to die protecting our students. 

I can’t predict what I would do, but I know in my heart that every day I keep a solemn, unspoken promise to my children’s parents and guardians that I will be there for their children. I don’t think most folks understand the depth of that promise. We do, we teachers. And every day, I think about that.

Because I teach drama, I work in an open communal performance space within a secure building. I carry keys around my neck that will allow me to lock my students in the safe place in my classroom. I know all of the exits and the other avenues of escape. We took first aid training to deal with life threatening gunshot wounds. It’s all now part of the job. 

I want to ask our politicians my Dad’s question, “I could be wrong, could you be wrong?” 

  • Could you be wrong about not finding a way to raise the age for legal gun ownership and mandatory background checks? 
  • What about assault weapons that are created only for armed combat?  Do we need those in our communities?
  • I know I don’t understand why folks need to feel safe by owning guns. I would like to understand that perspective. 

I want to challenge our legislators to go back and to remember why you entered politics. If  you want to make a better world for your children and your constituents, I ask you to consider could you be wrong about less restrictive gun legislation? 

I’m certain it will take courage to stand behind safer gun laws.  Will you make room for change and for stronger laws to protect our children? Our children’s lives are on the line – I could be wrong, could you be wrong?

Lizanne Wilson has been a teacher for more than 25 years. She currently teaches middle school drama at an independent school in Evanston.

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  1. I so appreciate that perspective. The inference of you dad’s question is, ‘Can you back off your “rightness”? I think the common discourse pits right against wrong—with no absolute on either side. Inviting each other to step away from their vested position encourages collaboration.
    Generally speaking no one is absolutely right or absolutely wrong, but egos have us defending our positions, just in case.
    However, when the lives of children are on the line, both sides might be more willing to find a middle position that protects our future generations.
    Praying it is so.

  2. Lizanne… your beautiful article brought me to tears. You were one of my beloved drama students many years ago! These tragic massacres carry special meaning for teachers.
    Like you, most teachers love their students and they remain in our hearts years after they were in our classes. Our lives are dedicated to nurturing young people, and it is impossible to understand why weapons of war are ever available to civilians. Your article says it all!
    Thank you!