For the past couple of days, anyone in our nation who learned of the unimaginable mass shooting of 17 high school students in Parkland, Florida has been grieving about this senseless loss of life.
Thankfully, people of faith are doing what they can to comfort those who were directly affected and many are having conversations with others throughout our land about the cause of such an atrocity (and the number of others that have taken place in the past few years).
There is no simple answer to be offered in such a complex and indescribably evil act. In these days immediately following such a tragedy, our focus should be on comfort and the tiny ray of hope that the presence of God through people of faith bring into such a situation.
It’s not surprising that it didn’t take long for politicians to jump on their panacea of choice. For some it’s legislation dealing with gun control and for others the need to act on existing legislation dealing with mental illness.
There’s little debate that the young man responsible for this act was deeply troubled and revealed multiple warning signs that he was capable of doing something unthinkable. How our law enforcement and other agencies failed to respond to those warning signs is a worthwhile point of investigation.
However, it doesn’t come close to answering the deeper and underlying question which has to be gnawing in the souls of anyone who has now witnessed similar events on an increasingly frequent time line.
It would be incomplete for anyone to offer a solution, but one observation that I cannot help but make is the fact that in this situation, and apparently in a few others that have preceded it, it’s not what the perpetrator possessed in terms of firearms or weapons; it’s what he did not possess in terms of a family or credible social network that could have offered support, direction and perhaps even intervention if need be.
When some individuals in the media immediately call for additional armed guards to be placed in all of our nation’s schools, doesn’t it raise the question that needs to be addressed before such a step is taken and that is, what has happened in our society that has led us into such an irrational place?
It’s not as simple as somehow tying it to taking prayer out of our public schools, which happened back in 1963. It is, however, the responsibility of caring people in our society to ask “What can we do to restore the respect for life, peace and human dignity?”
These are questions that warrant thoughtful and even prayerful examination. However, in this immediate aftermath our primary responsibility is to pray for and remember the hundreds of people who have been directly affected by this most recent tragedy.
For most of the nation, the time will come to take some sort of action, but for now caring people will recognize in a Florida school is not a headline, but an matter of consoling those who have broken hearts.
It’s hearts, not headlines, that really should be our first priority; and from that, constructive and hopefully transformational dialogue and action can be taken.
Grieving with God,