The sun was shining bright as we waited for the school bus to turn around the small curve to the drive way of our parsonage. Our two younger kids had been playing hide and seek. As they tired out, my younger child took my hand and looked at me. I knew from the way she looked at me and paused her breath, that she was wanting to say something important.
“Mommy?”, a big charming smile was on her lips, “You know, I´m going to go to fifth grade in summer. And I´d love to have a new school bag. Like my older brothers and sisters.” The smile got bigger and she blinked at me in the most charming way. As I was about to say something, the bus turned around the corner and my youngest child took her sturdy German schoolbag and quickly ran to the bright yellow school bus.
In Germany school kids are gifted a “Schulranzen”, a very stable and high quality schoolbag. This bag is a companion for the first four school years. When entering German Middle School, they will change this bag for a more fashionable, but less sturdy one.
“What a pity for the lovely blue and pink companion.” I sighed, but understood. My youngest child would be transitioning to the next step of her life. So here I went, on the search for a new bag. Requirements and needs are different to Germany, with less weight to carry every day and the student not having to take food along for long school days. As I googled different sites about the needs, feedback on different products and opinions of other parents, I was flabbergasted as I was referred to bulletproof backpacks for school kids.
After living in the US for over three years, I have become accustomed to many things. But firearms, shootings, and the danger of being hurt through guns have alienated this beloved country. As a German, who is aware of the broken history and crimes of our nation, I have never held a real firearm in my hands and do not plan to do so. Reasonings like the second amendment seem difficult for me to understand as there is no real danger having to bear arms supporting the natural rights of self-defense and resistance to oppression, and the civic duty to act in concert in defense of the state. For me it seems more like the danger comes from within, when Americans harm Americans. Statistically 96 American citizens die everyday from fire arms.
“Well”, a kind security officer told me, “you will have to adapt to our culture. Fire arms are part of it. Get used to it.” As I scrolled through the website, my heart sank. What a tough world for kids in America to grow up in, having to live with the fear of being shot. A dangerous and brave new world beyond the one we have left behind. Countries like Great Britain have been able to change their laws as they faced the brutal consequences of school massacres like Dunblane in 1996. But in the US with so many students, teachers and staff loosing their lives, with so many going to the streets in protest, the firearm industry seems unbelievable powerful like Goliath as he bragged in front of his enemies about his strength and invincibility. As a Christian, I can only hope and it is my constant prayer, that this will end in a David-and-Goliath-story, where the weak and small will triumph over the mighty.