I was in the ninth grade when Columbine happened. No longer the name of just a school, it represents the beginning of what has become the persistent violent anger taken out on the culture’s most vulnerable. Other than jail, schools are the only other place where people, based on age or life stage, are required to be. Don’t show up and face legal ramifications. And it is in this place – where futures are bright, opportunities abound, and parents’ hearts beat outside of their chest – that has become the bull’s-eye of violence.
Politicians debate and social media is polarized.
24-hour media cycles go on and on, running footage repeatedly AS IF that is helpful.
People dig down into their perspective and philosophies, choosing principles over people.
It is what it is.
Generally, politics fuel so much of my righteous anger that I find it best not to talk about it with others. However, as I approach the time when I have to send our oldest to kindergarten, it feels way more personal.
How am I supposed to prepare to send him into the bull’s-eye?
How do I live with the fear that educating my child is a dangerous risk to take?
How is it that these are the questions we must ask ourselves, in a country with vast resources and relative peace?
I assume that the answer is turning away from the emotions and just telling ourselves that it won’t happen. I assume that it is, “you get used to it.”
But that makes the righteous anger grow even stronger. Is the American way to numb our feelings and cross our fingers? Is it to live in a silent, pervasive, all-consuming fear that leads only to personal and collective deterioration?
Are numb fearful people the American trademark of parents?
Is anyone in leadership aware that we are raising a whole generation of young people who are regularized within this?
Has anyone in leadership asked where a culture of fear and mistrust of the other leads us?
I will work through the fear as I come to next August. I will prepare myself and try to do what is best for our son. I will give thanks for a faith tradition whose “Do no fear” is pervasive.
And I will pray for the redemption of our national leadership that comes from going back to the kindergarten basics – how to collaborate, how to seek the perspective of others, how to clean up their messes, and how to value the common good.