On April 20, 1999 twelve students and one teacher lost their lives in a shooting that caught our attention. Two students walked into their school and opened fire…Columbine .
On December 14, 2012 Newtown Connecticut, twenty children between the ages of six and seven, and six adults are gunned down.
March 24, 1998 Jonesboro, Arkansas; two students ages eleven and thirteen, ambush students and facility killing five.
These are only a few examples of a disturbing trend in our world. A world where life holds no value, no responsibility or accountability. A world in which a sixteen year can drive drunk, cause a crash that leaves four people dead, and get sentenced to ten years of probation…no jail time, just probation in a long-term facility. Alright, yes…he has to live with the knowledge that he is responsible for the loss of four lives…somewhere in his conscience, maybe. But does it really matter when the message sent is that all a young person has to do is claim it’s his parents fault because they never told him no…because his parents never set limits? Really!?!
Even worse is the idea that a gun and some bullets will be the answer to all your problems; whether it be with a teacher or a fellow student.
Now don’t get me wrong, I get that these young people have problems, and that somewhere we as a society went terribly wrong. I also understand that not every young person with a problem solves it with a gun. (And no, this isn’t a gun control issue…I refuse to argue that. This is simply me, ranting, trying to make sense of a tragic event.)
Once again we sat as a nation in fear as yet another school shooting is taking Place. We listen to news reports as information comes in, we speculate and we pray that it is over soon, with as few casualties as possible. If we’re parents with children in school, we frantically text them to check on their safety, we hug them tightly the minute they walk in the door and we tell the often throughout the night how much we love them. Throughout the next few days we will anxiously send them off to school again and wait for them to arrive back in the evenings, and then we will gradually put our fears in the back of mines…until the next time.
Now here is where I fall down each and every time…we shouldn’t wait for the next time…as parents, as aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, grandmothers and grandfathers shouldn’t we open our eyes and ears and do whatever we can to prevent this from HAPPENING AGAIN? Isn’t it our duty to protect our young people, to teach them, to help them learn from their mistakes? Isn’t a part of us teaching them letting them learn, letting them take responsibility for their actions, letting them lean that for every action there is a consequence and not saving them from that consequence?
Yes, teenagers are hard to talk to, they are hard to understand but they are the future and it is up to us to make sure they arrive safely; physically, emotionally, and mentally.
A part of me blames ourselves and how we’ve made it so easy for them to dissociate themselves. A television in every room, the Ipod, Ipad, tablet, laptop, video game systems…the earpieces in their ears, the permanently attached cellphone…all of those helpe to create the young people we see today. I am fifty years old, and hell yes I love that I have a TV that gets five hundred channels and that I can complain that there is never anything to watch; that I have at my disposal a laptop, a tablet, and a million other electronic devices at my fingertips. I also know that a good swat to my back side when I’d done wrong and a healthy dose of fear where my father was concerned helped shape my life. (And no, fathers aren’t the only ones that can instill fear; my mother could swing a mean flyswatter.) I know that having to face the consequences of my actions taught me to thing through future actions. and I know that once a bullet was fired, it could never be retrieved. There was no hitting the reset button the video game console…no redo’s.
Our children are NOT disposable, they are not replaceable they have value and we need to make sure they know that. We need to get back to the family dinners around the table without the devices we carry in our hands all day, we need to remember how to interact face to face, then maybe some of the problems these young people have will begin to be solved, because clearly a loaded gun is not the answer.
I know the next time I see my grand-daughter I will hug her a little tighter, when I see my nieces and nephews I will hug a little longer, (Lord knows to an eight year old anything long than five seconds is too long.) I will tell my children tonight that I love them, and I will pray for the rest of our children and I will pray, that we as a people…as humans figure out how to keep another school shooting from happening.