For those of you living under a rock, school shootings are becoming more frequent. Seeing all of this from a distance, I have been concerned about our children and how we can protect them. I mean, who isn’t these days? And “solutions” are coming in by the dozens. President Trump wants to arm teachers. Many others want to ban gun ownership or enact sensible gun control laws. And while considering our options as a country, I have always agreed that something must be done but I had no personal connection to any of the victims so I was never motivated to do more than be a social justice warrior on Facebook and Twitter. That changed today.
About 10 minutes after dropping off my daughter at the school bus stop this morning, I received a text from her school saying the campus has been closed due to a “security threat”. My heart nearly stopped in my chest. I called her immediately and my now rapidly beating heart nearly stopped again when I heard the fear in her voice. She was still on the bus but we had no information and both of us were assuming the worst. I have never felt more helpless and terrified in my life.
It turns out that former NFL player Jonathan Martin, a man with a very public history of being bullied and attempting suicide, posted a picture of a gun and some shells on Instagram with some text about bullying and revenge.
And he hash-tagged his former high school on the barrel of that gun, the high school my daughter was currently headed toward. Thankfully her school was prepared and I was able to retrieve her safely about 30 minutes later from a secure location on campus. But those were the 30 minutes of fear and concern I will never be able to forget. Nor will she ever be able to forget. It’s been hours and I am still shaking, half with terror and half with rage.
The worst part is that I don’t know who exactly I should be raging against. Jonathan Martin? The NRA? The gun manufacturers? The FBI? The bullies that drive these people to such desperation that their last resort is to threaten and kill children? The parents that fail to nurture their children with enough love so they don’t feel the need to resort to violence? The list is long and nebulous, and the answers are elusive. I certainly don’t know how to stop this but, unlike my former self (the guy I was yesterday), I am now ready to actively affect change and solve this problem.
What I do know is that any solution should be motivated by love. I truly believe that violence can only be countermanded by love, not more violence. I think these shooters are simply lacking the love and support any person needs to survive. Bullying, mental illness or whatever the reasons behind this, everything can be solved if we just provide our children with the support they need. We have to find a way to reach every single child; mine, yours, literally EVERY CHILD, and make them understand that they are worthwhile and worthy of being loved. We need to pay attention to what’s happening with our children and teach them self-respect before they can learn to respect others. People who feel loved and connected do not commit these kinds of horrendous acts. They just don’t. Policy and change are all well and good but the real answer lies in how we treat our children. I’m not sure what one person can do about this growing problem on a national level so I will appeal individually to each of you. Please join me by practicing kindness to everyone at all times, especially children. You never know what someone else is going through and a simple act of kindness can have a lasting impact on someone who feels that the world is against them. Regardless of what happens in Congress or the White House, simply being kind is something we can each do to improve the world we share.