I love writing for children. I’ve often thought that it’s because I’m reliving something from my childhood. But I also see that it’s because children ask the most direct questions, some of which I cannot answer. I’m trying to answer them for the children who read my books and for the child inside me.
So my question, right now, in the wake of Sandy Hook, is: why?
Why are we here? Why do innocent children die? Why do we suffer? Why does discourse lose civility, and why can we not find common ground?
I write for children hoping to find an answer to these questions.
I’m deeply proud to be a member of the kidlit community that asks and seeks to answer these questions. This is a passionately committed community that strives to protect children, to engage children, to help children find answers to the fundamental questions, and especially to the central question: why?
I don’t have answers, but I do have thoughts. And one of these thoughts is that if I can’t answer the questions, I can do something.
I can take a stand.
There is no more time in our society to look away. Too many children suffer. We can no longer look away from child exploitation. We can no longer look away from child slavery and forced child marriage. We can no longer look away from the violence promulgated by the entertainment industry aimed at children. We can no longer look away from the ease of access to weapons that kill the most innocent with impunity.
I can no longer look away.
I am taking a public stand against access to assault weapons.
I believe there is no earthly or God-given reason that a semi-automatic weapon capable of killing scores of people – of killing twenty innocent children – even when wielded by an inexperienced shooter should be available to any person, at any time.
I’m taking a stand in favor of gun control.
I’m also taking a stand in favor of hope.
This is the time of year when we all look to the most generous of human ideas: that birth is a gift and yet that our life may require sacrifice, self-denial, and loss. Human generosity – that the gift of life does require sometimes overwhelming sacrifice – gives me hope.
A teacher who barricades a door and loses her life in the bargain has sacrificed everything for her children, and this gives me deep grief, but also hope. A first responder who carries the unimaginable burden of doing a job well in the face of personal horror gives me hope. A nation that takes stock and may be awakening to a new reality gives me hope.
Why are we here? What is the meaning of life?
More importantly, why are you here? What kind of stand can you take – can we take – that will make a difference to the children today and the children of the future?
This is an important question, and I’m asking myself this question every hour. And I’m taking a stand. I’m standing up for the children.
I hope you'll stand with me.