By now you know of this tragedy, the number of victims (17), the name of the school (Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School) and the name of the alleged shooter (not to be mentioned here).
Aaron Feis, Chris Hixon and Scott Beigel made the ultimate sacrifice for their students, offering their lives in the place of the children they were there to teach that day. There were other, countless acts of selfless bravery exhibited by other staff and teachers during the shooter’s rampage. These names should be remembered and repeated. These are truly wonderful people.
It’s curious that some in the media have even questioned why is it that humans respond in crisis and rise to the occasion even at their own peril? An article by Daily Beast attempts to correlate this to an evolutionary response in our brains and by the end of the article simply concedes that it’s a great mystery.
Those that follow Jesus may have their own thoughts on this.
The Bible has a lot to say on courage and contains many stories in which heroes respond with acts of bravery. Deuteronomy 31:6 says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Jesus, the most notable hero of scripture, gave his life willingly for the sake of others.
So, for Jesus followers, there is no great mystery as to the acts of courage others exhibit in times of ultimate stress. Our Creator hardwired the response into us.
I’ve watched many social media posts and read several articles posted presenting a nation fed up with violence in our schools. Remedies are suggested – arm the teachers and staff, limit certain type of guns for sale, longer waiting periods to obtain a gun, installing metal detectors at schools, an emphasis on mental health and so on. I have my own thoughts as well, but honestly, I don’t know the answer; I would suggest neither do you. This is a clearly complex problem otherwise it would already have been solved.
The Broken Window Theory, developed by social scientists James Q. Wilson and George Kelling and popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book, The Tipping Point, suggests that if a window is broken and left unrepaired, soon people walking by will conclude that no one cares or is in charge. In time, more windows will be broken and when left unchecked, matters will escalate to even greater damage. So, when conventional methods for reducing crime in an area have failed, there has been noted success in simply cleaning up the neighborhood which then correlates to a reduction in crimes. This approach may not be totally counter intuitive, but it is at the least unconventional and on the surface not obvious.
Perhaps we should examine the unconventional and not obvious? Maybe we should look to things that would be restorative, healing, team building and pride developing for our youth? Natalie Hampton created an app when she was 16 called “Sit With Us” providing a 21 century conduit to others than don’t want to be left alone during lunch at school. Teachers at St. Paul, MN schools are using the development of comic books to speak out against cyber-bullying. Drop in centers for youth could receive funding and special tax treatment allowing them to operate financially sustainable, providing places to kids to connect and hang out in a healthy environment when his or her home doesn’t provide this. Or maybe a tax credit for parents completing a class teaching how to raise kids in the modern, social media-soaked world.
I’m not here to argue that I know “the” answer.
It’s time for a call to stop the polarizing conversations in an effort to proven one position is right and another is totally wrong. Again, with a complex problem it may take more than one change to impact outcomes and those changes may be things not obviously correlated to the issue. But I think it’s time as a society that we ought not to be content to stand in place and allow the victimization of our youth to continue.
Inaction may be the greatest mistake.
Let’s find ways to encourage support and fund those making a difference in the lives of our students, teachers and parents.
[photo credit: the big lead dot com]