I thought it would be appropriate to place within this forum some thoughts on the terrorist bombing that has taken place in Oklahoma City since it is the job of teachers to help their students process and understand the world in which they live, especially when it involves tragedy that appears to have no immediate explanation.
I engaged my students in discussion the day after the bombing of the federal building that happened to house a daycare center. For me, the killing is tragic, but even more so in that innocent children were killed and maimed. Witnessing the carnage was especially difficult for me, and more striking than terrorist attacks in recent memory, because of the presence of my one- year old daughter, whose little life I found to be even more fragile and precious than before the seeing the effects of the bombing. I found I was not alone in recognizing this newfound fragility of my own child's life, as one teen-ager related to me today that her mom cried while watching the news video on the day of the bombing.
I also wanted to communicate to my students today the need to be sensitive to creating stereotypes of any ethnic group or religion that might be tagged by the media of anyone else to have been responsible for the attack. While terrorism is no stranger to the Middle East, and while there are extremist Islamic fundamentalist groups in the world, I felt it was important to recognize that no one characteristic can be broad-stroke applied to any one group. And I predicted that the Arab-American community in America will have to deal with a violent backlash against it, which in and of itself is a form of prejudice and terrorism.
As the problem of terrorism moves into the American Heartland, it transforms itself from a phenomenon of the history books and weekly news magazines to a reality that we all will have to face. As a society, we must deal with the increasing vulnerability and fading invincibility that so often characterized America's affairs on the world stage. As teachers, educators, and parents, it seems we must help our young people accept this new status without lashing out at anyone group. When a student asked me "what can I do? I just want to go over there and kill 'em all," I replied: "You anger is justified. But channel that anger for good. Give blood. Donate clothing to the Red Cross. Volunteer at the local Boy's Club after school. Be a force for good to counter the veil that you are angry with."
It is my prayer that my young student will take me up on my suggestion. And I will continue to pray for the people of Oklahoma city.
April 20, 1995
Teacher of Social Studies