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Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on February 6th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 52 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 52

Take a deep breath

Worry is a good thing.

Right?

I mean, it can be a good thing. Like, if you never worried about cavities, tooth decay, or gingivitis, you would probably never brush your teeth, because who wants to do that mind-numbing chore at least twice a day? Seriously, I don’t understand how you humans get along with your teeth. A beak is so much simpler, so much sleeker, so much more aesthetically pleasing.

But I’m guessing you get my point. Once you stop worrying, you stop brushing, and then comes the bad breath and the staining and the smile that would make Jaws wince.

But worry can be a bad thing, too, like when you start obsessing over oral hygiene and over-floss. Have you ever seen photos of an over-flossing victim? They aren’t pretty.

I assume.

Forget about brushing. Think of it like this: Worry is like salt. A little goes a long way, and too much can ruin whatever it is you’re cooking up. And it can lead to heart disease.

The problem is finding that happy medium between too much and too little. Especially where guns are concerned.

Now don’t stop reading just because I used the “g” word. Of course, if you did stop reading, you’re not reading this now, so I’m pretty much preaching to the choir that doesn’t mind hearing one more voice in the great debate that’s dividing the nation.

From what I hear around the office, this paper is flooded with letters, commentaries, essays, and articles each week—from locals and from across the nation. Everybody has something to say about guns, whether the argument is that we’re safer with more of them around or that the only way to protect our children’s lives is to ban them.

I’ll say this now: I don’t have the answer. I’ll also say that I don’t have the utmost confidence in the bulk of society to do the right thing—especially en masse—so knowing that my friends and neighbors and co-workers and passersby could be armed and ready at a moment’s notice to protect the lives of those around them by quickly and accurately hitting a definite threat in the form of a crazy person with a gun of his or her own doesn’t make me feel safer. I’m just being honest. People tend to panic in emergencies and threatening situations, and while there are probably folks out there with great aim and the ability to make calm, rational decisions while the world around them goes to hell, such people are also likely to be jostled by the screaming, teeming masses clambering to exit the area as soon as possible. I’ve seen Jaws. When lives are in danger—even from a kid with a cardboard fin—people get trampled into the surf and left to suck wet sand.

Anyway.

I write about this now, because a couple weeks back, in mid-January, a robbery suspect being followed by law enforcement on city streets—all of them in cars, not on foot—triggered a precautionary lockdown of local schools. Students and staffers were never in any danger. Again, it was a precautionary measure.

But the Santa Maria Police Department reported that a Fesler Junior High School student called family members to report that there was a man on campus with a gun.

Any mother or father who’s heard the words “Sandy Hook” will immediately understand the heart-stopping, chill-inducing impact of such a call.

The family member called the police, who rushed to the school until the miscommunication was discovered. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending.

So does the story that began and ended Feb. 4, when officers responded to a report of kids who maybe had a rifle heading toward—again—Fesler. Another lockdown ensued, until everything was deemed safe.

That’s two lockdowns in less than a month, both of which were precautionary and both of which started with the threat of a gun. Actually, the idea of a gun. The suspicion of a gun.

That really sucks.

If I were a local official, I’d make the same call. Because you have to. If there’s a hint of a threat in the air, children’s safety comes first. You have to lock down the students.

So why am I also frustrated at what happened? Why am I peeved that we’re all so worked up we can’t allow our students to enjoy an education free from worry—worry that leads them to assume a gunman is imminently threatening their lives on campus when they’re essentially pulled back from the windows as a police chase goes by?

Too much worry is going to create problems of its own. But, as I already said, I don’t have an answer. Maybe I’m just venting this week. Maybe the only rational response to the seemingly ever-present tension that is life these days is to talk about it.

Sorry, but you all are certainly cheaper than a therapist.

The Canary rarely salts her birdseed. Send comments to canary@santamariasun.com.