We live in a world that is not safe. I understand this in a visceral way, but I don't have to face it on a daily basis, thanks to living in a small town that feels secure to me. Yesterday I picked up Ava from school, then took both kids for a haircut. Meanwhile, a block away from the barber shop, an armed robbery was occurring at one of our banks.
We came out and got into the van, my kids chattering to each other about their blue hair since the barber sprays a temporary colour of choice into their hair after the cut. We noticed a helicopter, flying low right over our heads, the engine drone loud over our conversation.
As I drove a block up the street, the kids were straining at their seat belts to see the helicopter. When we turned, we saw that a large portion of main street was blocked off for police and fire trucks and emergency personnel. This kind of thing just doesn't happen in our little town, so spectators were gathering and everyone had heard something and was happy to share it.
I pulled up beside my co-worker, who was standing outside of her house, and found out that the bank had been robbed and the helicopter was looking for the get-away car. Her husband had been in the bank an hour before this had happened. Someone said that there was no gun, and that no one had been hurt, but I've since heard that a hammer was the weapon they used.
People move to small towns for safety. I was becoming afraid living in a big city in the Vancouver area because the crime was out of control, with house break-ins, drug busts and robberies the norm. Moving here felt so safe for our family, and it has been, for the most part.
Our drug store was robbed in a smash n' grab a few months ago, where they drove a truck into the store in the early morning hours, grabbed some money and product and took off. That was unusual, but no one was around. This was at 3:30 in the afternoon with employees and customers in the bank, kids out of school and on the streets, and in the full light of day. That frightens me more because it's so brazen, and because they got away. I want them caught, and fast, and for a sense of safety to return to our town.
At bedtime, I had the difficult job of answering Ava's questions about the robbery without terrifying her. She told me that at school, her teacher has talked to them about what they will do if anyone ever comes into the school who doesn't belong. They will go to their story corner and read books, talking very quietly so that no one will hear them. My heart cracked inside when she told me this, in her innocent, child-like way, and I knew then how very hard it is to protect our children in the kind of world we live in. A place where people steal what is not theirs to take, and use the threat of violence to get what they want but have not earned.
I told Ava that we cannot live our lives in fear. To cower in our houses and be afraid to go outside is to let the people who do bad things have power over us. We must move forward, with our heads held high, and have faith that God will look after us. I believed it when I said it to her, but now I have to walk it out, every single day, and model this courage for living to my children.