And The Children Will Lead Us

Once again our flags fly at half staff. Last week’s tragedy in Parkland, Florida left us all reeling, stunned, angry, and demanding answers. Why does this keep happening in our country? What’s wrong with the system that we can’t prevent this kind of senseless carnage?IMG_3922

I have thoughts, but probably no one answer, because it is a complex subject, and no one answer will prevent these kinds of events.

However, it seems to me our very freedoms are part of what stops us from acting.  My Canadian friends ask, “What’s the matter with you down there? Why can’t you make this stop?”

The incredibly articulate Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students say they knew something was wrong with the young man. They saw strange behaviors that made them concerned. Apparently, even the FBI had gotten tips about him. But our system is built on innocent until proven guilty. We don’t arrest someone because we think he may do something terrible. We don’t arrest a person on the worry from someone else that the person might be dangerous.

Think about the situation with spousal abuse. How many women have been killed after getting a restraining order against their boyfriend or spouse?  There was evidence the person was dangerous, but until the person acts, the system doesn’t kick in. Not much happens before. Do I want the police to come arrest me because a neighbor gets bent out of shape over a fence and reports that I’m dangerous and might hurt them? Do you?

Do we need to take a long hard look at our system to find the middle ground?

I think so.

Someone on Facebook posted they were tired of hearing it was the parents’ fault. Other people blame the school system. And then we look to our laws, which seem to me to be woefully inadequate for this situation. Our media which glorifies violence is also a part of the problem. There are movies and “games” out there, you couldn’t pay me to look at. It’s probably all these things.

When I was a principal,  I saw the results of parents not doing an adequate job for their kids. Hey, I get it, being a parent is the most difficult thing we attempt, mostly without training and with  possibly inadequate role models. Many people become parents way before they’re financially able to sustain a family. (And yeah, I know if we waited until we were ready, we’d never have kids. LOL) But worries about money, needing to work two or three jobs make parenting an even tougher job. Kids suffer.

As a principal, I saw kids I feared would act out their anger, especially as they got older. Such anger they had, even in elementary school. Could I insist they see our school counselor? Not really. And our poor school counselors for the most part are burdened with managing all the standardized testing stuff, frequently cutting into the time they might spend counseling kids. At one point when I was a principal, our district took the step of contracting with an outside agency, where we could direct families in need of counseling. There was no cost to the families. Could I make them go? No. I had no enforcement ability. If the family was in denial, I was powerless. Not a good feeling.

The young people who survived the tragedy in their high school last week speak with clarity and passion. One young girl wiping tears from her eyes, yelled at legislators that if the guy had a knife he wouldn’t have killed 17 people. Hard to argue with that logic.

Yes, of course, guns don’t kill people. People kill people. But a person with an assault weapon can kill way more people than someone armed with a knife. Does any true sportsman need one of these assault weapons to hunt? Where’s the fairness in that? Where’s the challenge? You might as well, stake out a poor deer to a tree, and then shoot it. So brave. So much skill.

Eliminating the ability of a person to legally purchase an assault weapon and those bump stocks which give them even more fire power, seem a no brainer to me and to those young people. An yet, most of my Texas lawmakers (who receive money from the NRA) were this morning quoted or not (since some did not respond) in the Fort Worth Star Telegram  as supporting our 2nd Amendment and against limiting in any way any person’s ability to buy one of these weapons whose only purpose is to kill lots of people in a small amount of time.

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I tell you, if it weren’t for these Florida students, I’d be more concerned than I am. It gives me much comfort to hear them speak. Someone–parents, schools, and the students themselves–is doing a great job producing articulate, caring, motivated citizens. These kids will be our future elected officials. If the current elected officials won’t act to make our schools, churches, and gathering places safer, they will.  Unfortunately, that means many more mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers will be attending a funeral for a loved one before we have this younger generation of activists in positions of power.

 That’s terribly depressing.

In the meantime, let’s send our thoughts and prayers to all those who’ve lost loved ones in one of these senseless acts of violence. But let us also act.

 All sorts of groups are out working to make us all safer. Here’s a good one:

https://action.sandyhookpromise.org/donate_page/floridatragedy?track=e_20180215_dl_1&amounts=25,50,100,250,500,1000&utm_source=shp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=fr&utm_content=1385508

As always I’d love to hear from you.

marsha@marsharwest.com  http://www.marsharwest.com 

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http://www.twitter.com/Marsharwest  @Marsharwest

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12 responses to “And The Children Will Lead Us

  1. There are too many guns in this country. Guns kill!! A knife, a baseball bat wouldn’t have resulted in this many deaths. Guns kill!! (Worth repeating.) We need to vote out the members of Congress who are bought by the NRA.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I heard NRA officials this morning stating that “we” want to get rid of everyone’s gun. That’s just not true. I have a gun. It’s just nobody needs to have an assault weapon. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Susan. Sorry we have to have this discussion. But the kids do give me hope.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You are so right, Marsha. In our country which is based on freedom and human rights, you can’t do anything until the act is done. And you can’t force anyone to go to the doctor or counselor, nor make the parents actually take the child for regular appointments. I read an interesting article on these people who murder. They’re not always mentally ill because there are kind people who have mental health issues. In fact, I know and have known people who are mentally ill, but they sought out a doctor to help them through this disease. According to the article, and I wish I had the link now, anger builds up so much inside them, they become violent and can’t control their emotions. So they set out to “take care” of the people or institution (school) they think wronged them. Anger management is needed to help them control their urge to demand restitution. Teaching children how to deal with anger and strong emotions in situations could be added to the school curriculum. From my experience in teaching, I’m proud of the high schoolers who are using their grief and energy to try and make a difference in the gun laws and procedures. And I’m happy we are allowing a platform for them to be heard. Thanks for sharing your feelings on your blog.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well said, JQ. We do need to help people learn to deal with their anger. But there again, we are adding in one other job to a teacher’s already long list of duties. Maybe if our counselors weren’t so burdened with standardized testing, they could pick up that slack. I’m sure some counselors in some schools do that, but not nearly enough. Thanks so much for stopping by. 🙂

      Like

  3. As a Canadian I admit I’m amazed that this continues to happen in the US and government is unable or unwilling to change the gun laws. And waiting for the young people speaking now to be in a position of power wrong. I do note there have been a couple of high profile men who give large donations to the Republicans saying they will no longer donate until this changes.

    I suspect if more people with deep pockets and a history of donating things will change more quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Pat. I found the info fascinating that when this happened in Australia in 1999, the government changed the laws and it hasn’t happened since. That’s powerful. I hope more of those deep pocket folks will speak out, but what a shame it takes money and our elected official don’t just take action because it is the right thing to do. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think sometimes you have to speak out. It’s the price of living in a democracy and your voice is usually well thought out and reasoned as well as from the heart. That’s a powerful combination.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent post, Marsha. As Pat already commented, you write thoughtfully and from the heart. Our worst mass shooting in the UK was in 1996, when 16 children were shot in Dunblane, Scotland. New gun laws were introduced restricting private ownership of guns. I still remember that day and the horror of it.

    Like

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