A child and two others are dead, dozens are wounded, hundreds are in shock, and an entire nation is in mourning. Once again, terrorists have struck at a symbol of American freedom, in ways meant to shred our civic fabric. Few can understand the motivations behind such attacks, but none of us can stop trying to craft an appropriate response.
In Boston, the Combined Jewish Philanthropies did not turn to a rabbi, a politician, or a terrorism expert to make sense of the unfolding tragedy. Instead, they shared the words of a third-grade teacher at the Rashi School, the Reform Jewish day school in Dedham, Mass. Jessica Solomon’s response came in a poem titled “This Year as a Teacher”:
This year as a teacher, I will have taught children about gun violence and bombs and meteors exploding in the skies. I will have said “I don’t know” a few more times than I am comfortable with and tell them that there are some queries even Google cannot fathom.
But this year as a teacher I will have taught children about stars being born and poetry being written and the importance of hospitality to strangers. I will have talked of the symmetry of snowflakes, the taste of honey on the tongue, and the sound that music makes as its vibrations reach our ears. I will have shown them how to make mistakes with grace and grit, how to break white light into a thousand different colors, and how to get down on the floor when their friends drop their markers.
This year as a teacher I will have taught: the question to ask isn’t always “why?” but “what now?” I will have watched, eyes wide, as children live into the future with hearts full of hope and I will wonder at the goodness and beauty of it all.