pollyI remember being very asleep when my mom came in my room. I was in fourth or fifth grade, and the Polly Klaas story was something we had followed at home and on the playground.

My mom crept in, sniffling, hair messed, in glasses, and sat on the side of my bed.

“They found Polly Klass. She wasn’t alive.” And she cried and hugged me for a long time. It felt so close to home, because Polly Klass was just a bit older than me, and lived just an hour or so away, in a city called Petaluma, that we actually visited a bit because my grandma lived there.

Since then, I have always lived in a kind of fear. Every man that was a stranger was someone who could hurt me, or take me away from my family. I was certain to be kidnapped, raped, murdered, simply because I was a young girl. The night and the dark became scary, and I would wake my dad up to check the noises I was sure were men outside my window.

As I got older, there was pepper spray, rape whistles, carrying my keys in between my knuckles in a certain way to cause pain, checking surroundings, and staring potential suspects in the eye to note their features. I’d set booby traps behind my door. Walking home from downtown bars, I would wave my hands in the air and talk loudly to myself, because I figured no one would try to kidnap a crazy person. I sleep with knives under my mattresses.

You might not be as paranoid as I can be, but I’m sure you have had some fears.

Tonight, Monday, around 11:00pm, the state of California received an Amber Alert for missing children in a blue Nissan. My sisters and I responded with surprise that we were receiving this on our phones, and then immediate gratitude for living in a world with such technology that this was possible.

I thought, “I hope everyone can read this and we can find the car and the children can be safe.” And I thought about how grateful I would be if those were my family members that were missing.

I went on twitter and facebook, and was horrified to find people were complaining about the notification. They had been “freaked out” by the sound and “startled” by the vibration and “can you believe the government can do this to my phone?! I didn’t sign up for this!” and telling each other how to deactivate the Amber Alert settings.

….What?!

Two children, Hannah and Ethan Anderson, are reported missing after their mother’s remains are found in a house that has been burned to the ground. By the grace of God and incredible advances in technology, we have the chance to find the suspect by car and prevent more damage to two lives in peril, but people are irritated because their phones made a noise they didn’t think it could?!

Unbelievable. If that is you, let’s not call each other friends anymore.

But you know who I really hope was irritated? The suspect. I hope he got that text, too. I hope it freaks him out, and he turns around, or gets identified and caught, and those kids are brought home safe. It took less than an hour for just about everyone in the state of California to know that those kids were missing. How many lives can we save, and how much damage can we prevent, if this becomes a real tool we can use? This is the same kind of system that has saved and can save lives during hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc. Truly incredible.

For Polly, and the too many like her, and for Hannah and Ethan Anderson tonight, I’m thinking good, safe, warm thoughts, and praying you are brought home.

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