Sometimes Mandurah seems a world away

Diego Pfeiffer, a student survivor from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, speaks to a crowd of supporters and media, while fellow survivors Sophie Whitney, left, and Sarah Chadwick embrace after they arrived at Leon High School, in Tallahassee, Florida. Photo: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert.
Diego Pfeiffer, a student survivor from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, speaks to a crowd of supporters and media, while fellow survivors Sophie Whitney, left, and Sarah Chadwick embrace after they arrived at Leon High School, in Tallahassee, Florida. Photo: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert.

Sometimes you read the world news and think how lucky we are to live where we do.

On any given day, the headlines might be about religious violence in the Middle East, or famine in Africa, or riots and financial ruin in Europe.

But seeing the images last week of another school shooting in the United States touched us deeply.

Seeing mothers and fathers – some still wearing their Ash Wednesday crosses – rush to their children after hearing about a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida was heartbreaking.

Fourteen students and three staff members died.

In recent days, students – some pictured left – have been protesting their government to take action on gun control.

How lucky it seems that we live so far away from such atrocities, that our children do not have to beg our government to be safe in their classrooms.

How blessed we are to live in a culture that does not foster such terrible violence.

What a strange world this must be for Americans who can recall a time when such disasters were not a common occurrence, an America that was much like Australia is now. One where children do not fear for their lives at school.

Reading over the statistics, school shootings in the United States were rare before the 1950s. But then something changed.

In the 1950s 13 people were killed in school shootings, but from 2010 to date there has already been 160 children and teachers murdered at school. 

What has changed?

Is it just the availability of weapons?

When I think back to a childhood spent in Mandurah, I can’t imagine anything further away, more mystifying, more horrific than what these children and families were forced to experience last week.

Instead of protesting gun laws because out school mates had been murdered, we were wagging school and hoping not to get caught at the beach.

We were wasting money on the Space Invaders machine at what was once called the Spinaway Bay Deli. Well, at least I was.

And that’s the hope for our children. That they can have a childhood free of the violence that destroys entire communities elsewhere in the world.

Once in a while, let’s just be thankful we’re so far away