I opened the local paper yesterday, and the first headline: Armored Backpacks and Rush on a Guns After Conn. The title alone sent shivers down my spine. Shivers followed by an inner voice asking, “What does THIS say about US? Is THIS what we want to teach our children?” We stand up on Sundays and profess faith in a God and the promises that death is not the end, and on Monday, we stock pile weapons to keep us safe. If actions speak louder than words to children, I believe what we are teaching is that fear is stronger than faith. Fear is stronger than love. Fear is stronger than God.
I’ve heard it said that fears can really be false expectations appearing real. False expectations that lead to fight or flight reactions. False expectations that only fuel the fire of violence. False expectations that crowd out space for compassion, love, and creative problem solving. Armored backpacks and teachers packing heat address the symptom of a problem we might not even be able to fully identify or describe.
I don’t think anyone would argue that the number of mass shootings in 2012 alone necessitate change. The question isn’t whether to change or even who is to blame. It’s how do we, ourselves, begin changes in our systems,from government to mental health, that might truly begin to address the root causes of these issues. How do we teach our children to live in the midst of a complex world? How do we practice the faith we say we believe?