I am sickened by the wanton destruction and meaningless loss of life as a result of the school shooting in Florida this week. I am also sick of hearing who’s to blame for the tragedy. If we want the truth for a change, we need to stop accusing the other side and listen up.
It’s OUR fault.
We, the American people, have embraced the idea of a car for every licensed driver and a chicken in every InstantPot. We’ve put TVs in every bedroom and video remotes in the hands of every child. We’ve painted our little girls like china dolls, wrapped them in satin, and called them princesses. We’ve built man caves and taken girl trips and declared that we are in great need of sand between our toes. We’ve indulged our materialistic desires and blamed someone else when unwanted consequences came our way.
Wear a crown, but skip the rhinestones.
People of God, if we want to wear a crown like the child of a King, don’t choose a tiara. Choose the crown Jesus’ wore. A crown of thorns.
Ponder that for a lifetime.
Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve.
He was also very specific about wading into the darkest situations and bringing light and life to the most hopeless, and he set the example. His light shined in the darkness and the darkness DID NOT overcome it and it still doesn’t.
Be part of the solution, not the problem.
If you have never volunteered to help the homeless, never served a meal, embraced a homeless person, wept with them, prayed with them, or helped close-up-and-in-person, do not speak to me about the problem of homelessness and do not dare to cast blame or offer a “solution."
If you have never reached out to a troubled teen and invested in their lives by teaching them a new way, mentoring, or simply loving them, do not talk to me about the “problem of youth” and do not dare to cast blame or offer a “solution.”
If you’ve never done anything to make a real, tangible difference in this world, I don’t want to hear your theories about the problems. You (and we) are part of the problem, and it’s time we take a close look at ourselves and change.
Change begins in the heart, not in the legislature.
New laws will not solve the problem of our hearts. We cannot legislate morality and that, dear friends, is what we’ve lost. We’ve discarded the Judeo-Christian ethic as if doing whatever we wanted would always be right. The school shooting, and the seventeen left dead this week, prove its not.
Our choices reveal who we are.
Regardless of our opinion about Christ or religion, our choices result in consequences and we the people are reaping what we’ve sowed. A kid in trouble needs help, needs someone to learn his name, listen to him talk, and try to intervene.
School teachers must teach, and they have more to do than they can get done. They cannot be expected to train up a child in the way he or she should go, too. That’s the responsibility of we the parents.
Lead by example. Please.
We’re supposed to teach our children the difference between right and wrong by words AND the example we’ve set, to teach AND demonstrate the importance of loving and forgiving others, to teach AND demonstrate the need to love and care for the least, most troubled, most vulnerable among us.
Our children learn from us and they are a reflection of us. Certainly, they make a choice about their actions, but their choices, in general, reflect what they’ve learned and lived at home. What are we teaching?
Stop blaming and do something.
Violence in schools and the decline of our society are not problems caused by “the other side,” by our current or any previous President, or by the legislature. They are a reflection of our hearts.
If we want change, we must be the change. Volunteer. Offer to read books to the class for an elementary school teacher and choose the books wisely. Invest in the life of a child by participating in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. Volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club. Help at the Salvation Army. Google “programs for troubled teens” and get involved in your community, and take your own children along as you go. Welcome people from troubled circumstances into our churches and our lives.
Don’t just pray.
The thousands of people directly impacted by the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School need our prayers today and for years to come. The sound of gunfire will echo in heads, hearts, and dreams for a long time. We must pray, but let our prayers move our feet to action.
Ask how we can help, then do it. When someone puts out a call for volunteers, step up. You don’t have to be an expert. God uses the ones who show up, even when they don’t feel equipped. Help anyway.
One day, we’ll answer for what we didn’t do.
What we don’t do matters as much as what we do. This morning, one Scripture rings in my head, breaks my heart, and drives me to action. May it do the same for all of us.
“The King will…say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me…For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick in prison and you did not look after me…’ Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25:41-45