Another school shooting. It makes me sick to my stomach. More than this, it eats away at my soul. Lord, have mercy on us. On the children who died and those left behind. On the families of the victims and the family of the shooter. On the school and the community. On our nation: those crying out for limits to weapon access; those advocating for a better mental health care system; those dreadfully perplexed by where the world went wrong and how to right it.
If you’ve come here looking for an easy answer, you’ve come to the wrong place. Easy solutions to complex problems are not only misleading, they are dangerous. What is most needful is not easy and even-dimensional. It is damn hard. It requires sacrifice. Sacrifice of our time, our talent, our money.
First, it’s about time. We live in a lonely culture, getting lonelier by the day. We have come to replace genuine friendships with false virtual ones. Our children desperately need comforting companionship, not cutthroat competition, not food that leaves them starving, not the latest techno gadget.
But before you point the finger of blame at the shooter’s parents, look within. When I was at the peak of my profession, I thrust myself into my career to the detriment of my family life. I noticed my daughter getting depressed, so what did I do? I did what any concerned parent would do. I hired her a mentor.
Sad. More than sad. Tragic. Our children need our time. Not a cheap substitute. No matter what it costs.
Next, it takes talent. In the midst of surfing over vitriolic Facebook memes, on the subject, I encountered a novel idea. Why not hire Veterans as school bodyguards? I’m not saying we should arm them to the teeth and turn schools into more of a war zone than they already are. But I do believe those who have dedicated their lives in the service of our nation are the best ones to protect our children.
It takes time. It takes talent. Finally, it takes money.
Partisan politics aside, it is tragically telling that the same persons who claim mass murder is a mental problem gut funding for mental health care. Rather than fighting the very real and present battle caring for those afflicted, their loved ones, and the community around them, we funnel our money into shows of force that do nothing to help the well-being of anyone.
One alarming statistic that shows the depth to which we’ve sunk is this. More than 10 times as many persons with mental illness are floundering in jail and prison than are in psychiatric facilities. Good God! How on earth can we allow this?
It takes money. And not just throwing bandaids at gushing wounds. We desperately need equipped, well-staffed, humane living facilities where persons with severe mental illness can be safe from themselves and from others. And safe for others.
How do we address violent attacks in our schools? It takes time. It takes talent. It takes money.
It takes sacrifice. But our lives depend on it.