Enough? Students Walk Out of School, Demanding Action. What should we hear?

Enough? Students Walk Out of School, Demanding Action. What should we hear? March 14, 2018

Today, thousands, if not millions of students will walk out of their schools for 17 minutes, a minute for every life lost in Florida earlier this month to the Parkland school shooting.

Some schools are suspending students for walking out. Others are supporting them including one in my backyard – the home of Columbine – where students will hold an evening rally

What they want

These students are looking to us to “do something.” They want a government solution – stricter laws and more policing. But as the details roll out about this incident, it seems that both laws and policing failed. The shooter evaded both.

Basically, they want Congress to take action, including:

  • Require Universal Background Checks
  • Ban Assault Weapons
  • Pass a law that would allow courts to disarm people who display violent behavior

Unfortunately, these solutions are too easily argued away. Congress can ban “assault weapons,” and someone with ill intent will still get his hands on one. They can require universal background checks, but with more than 357 million guns in circulation the checks and balances would be far too easy to circumvent. Passing a law to disarm people with violent behavior? That would work for Parkland, but not for Las Vegas.

Some of the movement today is political posturing. Some of it is angst. Some of it is fear.

I can understand the anxiety of our kids. These kids are scared and they are looking to adults to protect them. That’s the ultimate responsibility of any generation, to protect the next.

Is it possible to stop the political posturing and start with a few basic agreements?  Look, we all hate this — Innocent children enduring this evil. Our first common cause is to protect innocent children
Embed from Getty Images

Yes, adults need to protect their children

We are preoccupied with safety in every aspect of a child’s life. Truth is, we have never lived in a time like this where children are so protected.

Newborns are brought into a world full of safety. Parents – and even grandparents—attend classes on how to rock babies, how to change diapers and basic first aid. Babies get thorough neonatal and newborn care, measuring their progress to make sure no kid gets left behind.

We strap them into car seats with five buckles and put helmets on them while they ride their scooters and toddler-proof homes against any injury.

Plastic bags have warnings and small toys have choking hazard stickers. Some young parents are terrified because of all the warnings of what could go wrong.

Playgrounds are bumpered, shock proofed against the clumsiest of children.

In my day we hid under desks, practicing for the nuclear bomb that never came. That was bad enough. But these days they hide in closets and behind barricades preparing for an armed assailant.

I don’t know what’s more frightening, preparing for the big bomb that never comes or for an unnamed gunman that has never visited your school, but is on the prowl.

But despite our best efforts as parents, we can’t protect our children from everything.

As we wring our hands, we all put forth solutions.

children enough playground
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

It’s all of these causes – and none of them

I live just 15 minutes from Columbine High School, forever memorialized for its horrific day. I have friends and family who were personally impacted. Most forever.

The incident occurred on April 20, 1999. Almost 19 years ago.

And instead of us understanding the problem since then, it’s simply exacerbated, evolved and now duplicated over and again.

We keep turning these reasons, the cause-and-affect tiles over and again.

  • Violent video games?
  • Violent television and movies?
  • Culture?
  • Drugs?
  • Guns?

It’s all of these – and none of these.

If we really want to protect our children, keep them at home

When my sons were young, I was fussing because they were too close to a swinging door. An older friend told me this – From the day they come from the hospital, you start the process of letting them go.

It’s true, isn’t it? Whether it’s the end of breastfeeding, the first steps on their own, the first day of kindergarten, going away to college, or walking down the aisle. We are letting them go from our safety into potential danger.

But then we turn them loose into a school where they are no longer in our control. Predators of both the body and the mind are out there, and especially in our schools.

Not only are they targets of gunmen today, but some schools are brainwashing them to reject authority, to reject moral teachings, to reject science, to reject family, to reject American values. But not everyone has the ability or finances to take their kids out of school.

So we prepare them to face school like they would life.

Do not despise the children

Tom Mauser, the father of Daniel Mauser, who was among the 13 killed at Columbine, told the Denver Post, “The purpose of the rally is to say enough is enough. It is not political. It’s not anti-gun. It’s anti-solutions that don’t work.”

As a father, I get his frustration. And as a citizen, I understand his language.

So, after the day of Enough!, what’s next?

Some have laughed at the naivety of this march. While “Stop violence” and “No more guns” are simplistic slogans, I am trying to peel away my cynicism to hear their pain and frustration.

Jesus told us not to despise the children, not to turn them away. Jesus told us  that “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

So today, I’ll try to listen. Are you hearing anything?

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