For Sake Of Kids, Ask Questions
Posted: December 21, 2012
“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”
— Matthew 2:18
A friend reminded me of this Bible verse after the shooting in Connecticut last week. It communicates so well the community of grief.
According to Matthew, three wise men travel to Judea in search of a king. Upon arriving, King Herod directs them to Bethlehem, telling them to send word when they find the child, so he may also come to worship.
The wise men find the child-king, but rather than telling King Herod, they return home by another route. When Herod finds out, he orders all the boys under age 2 in Bethlehem to be killed.
The event is memorialized by the Western Christian Church as the Massacre of the Holy Innocents. These children are regarded as the first Christian martyrs.
But what of the Sandy Hook children? For what did they die?
As often happens, grief, on its way to the surface of consciousness, turns to anger. And that anger needs a target.
Some blame the National Rifle Association. Others say it’s the lack of strict gun laws. Others blame the prayer ban in public schools.
These automatic responses come from biases. Of course, such pronouncements alienate those who disagree, thus preventing any discussion.
The anger escalates.
Is there one single reason for school shootings? Or is the problem systemic?
If the shootings are the direct result of banning corporate prayer in public schools, then why didn’t students start shooting when the law was enacted, in the 1960s?
If school shootings are the direct result of liberal gun laws, then why did the massacres not begin until the 1990s?
While both of these factors may be an influence, I believe they are part of a larger picture. No, I don’t know what that larger picture looks like, but I have questions.
At the beginning of any endeavor — such as ending school shootings — it is better to start, not with answers, but questions.
Yesterday, I spoke with several young men who remember bringing guns to school, hung in the back window of their pickup trucks. One says he carried bullets in his pockets. Yet it never occurred to them to massacre schoolmates.
Tumultuous as the ’60s were, we never attacked “The Establishment” with guns.
What changed? What is different about our culture now? What type of society produces young people who are capable of committing such acts?
What about young people who spend most of their time alone?
And how do violent video games influence and shape a young mind and character?
What about violent movies? What stories do our children grow up with?
How do children learn to value each human life?
What about busing children miles away from home to huge, centralized schools?
Do children today grow up feeling connected to their families and communities?
Why are so many afflicted with mental health problems?
Do we educate our children for the sole purpose of their future financial security?
What about basic questions of identity? How are human beings affected by being identified, from a young age, as consumers?
Yes, the availability of guns has put weapons in the hands of these young killers. But how did they become killers?
And if we only remove gun availability from the picture, how then will the soul sickness manifest in our society?
You may have other questions. Our children and teenagers may have other questions. All of our questions should be discussed in the public square. Where we listen deeply.
Rather than blaming the other group, perhaps citizens and legislators should first come together to ask questions.
Rather than rashly enacting laws that placate a group, let’s look at our questions critically. And then, with courage and resolve, start the long process of systemic transformation.
For the sake of the children.