How long, O Lord?

I am an emotional wreck this morning.  I saw the new yesterday about the school shooting in Florida.  Mass shootings seem to be more and more commonplace.  It tears my nerves up.  It was just last week that my son’s school did a practice drill of a lockdown in the event that there was an active shooter on campus.  It’s just gut wrenching to me that they even have to practice such a thing.

But there are two things that I have found deeply disturbing.

First, the number of kids that were taking videos and doing Snapchats while all this was going on was alarming to me.  Nowadays, where eh-vah-ry-body has a cell phone, we all have the lovely blessing of getting a first hand look into the day-to-day lives of all our friends and neighbors.  People actually make a living doing You-Tube videos of themselves eating disgusting food and doing stupid (and dangerous) things.  But the thing is, there would be no living to be made if there weren’t people who watched the videos.  And honestly, I don’t know that humanity is all that much more narcissistic and me-focused than we’ve always been, it’s just that now we have outlets to promote ourselves that we didn’t used to have.

When tragedy happens, you can bet that these days that somebody got a video of it and the news media will gracious pay good money for said video.  So now, a school shooting happens and instead of HIDING and PRESERVING YOUR FREAKING LIFE, we have kids doing Snapchats that say “omg nooooo” while there are shots going off in the background.  It’s almost as disturbing as the shooting itself to think that while a classmate is lying on the floor bleeding to death, another is posting a video on Snapchat.  Do you see what I’m saying?  Nobody in the general public needs to see that video.  NOBODY.  There is no news value whatsoever there.  None.  Please please parents, school admins, and any other adulty person that has the ear of a child in school…please tell your children to protect themselves.  That a firsthand video of horror is nothing to compare to the value of their own lives.  That sending a Snapchat is just not worth the risk of calling attention to yourself when there is an active gunman SHOOTING PEOPLE at your school.

The second thing that stuns me about all this is the number of kids that are saying how disturbing the shooter was prior to all this.  That some classmates had even predicted that if there was ever a shooting at their school, this guy would be the one to do it.  And he did.  In this day and age where people get their feelings hurt when you look at them wrong, where your neighbor is somebody that you see when you are driving into or out of your garage, where people “just stay out of it,” and some mass shooting happens, you will always have those who will say, “I just can’t believe they would do something like this.”  But if you start to dig a little into the lives of these people that are doing such heinous things, you’ll almost always find all kinds of crazy, unstable stuff.  And you’ll also find people who knew about their crazy, unstable stuff.  And nobody says anything.  Because what can we do anyway?  You start to see how unstable a person is, how dangerous they could be, but who do you tell?  What do you do?  Everybody is so offended about everything anymore that no one would dare question the metal stability of a person who says disturbing things and posts pictures of themselves with weapons on Instagram.  I mean, if this guy wants to take pictures of himself holding a gun and post it all over social media, that’s his right, isn’t it?  The liberal people say so because nobody has the right to tell me what I can and can’t do with my life.  The gun people say so because nobody has the right to tell me I can’t own/take pictures of me with my weaponry if I want to.  Nobody has the right to speak up because it might be offensive to someone else.  It’s none of my business what someone else does or how they want to live their lives.

And so the shootings continue.  The domestic abuse and killing continues.  The child abuse and trafficking continues.  The awful horrible things just continue.  And we all sit at home and watch them live from the camera phone of a teenager lying on the floor at their school while someone is shooting their teachers and classmates.

How long, O Lord?  How long?

 

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When parenting gets hard

I dropped my son off at school this morning and as he was getting his stuff together to get out of the car, he started telling me how they were going to be practicing how they would do a lockdown.  He said he was afraid because what if there really was an intruder?  What if the intruder got him?  What if?

I explained the best I could in the moment that the lockdowns were good to practice because that way he and his friends would know exactly what to do if there really was an intruder.  It would help them be safer than if they had never done a lockdown before and then had to in a real situation.  I told him that the school had safety measures put in place to hopefully keep an intruder from ever getting very far into the building even if one did show up, but just in case the next step was to do a lockdown to protect themselves.  I honestly don’t know that I was much comfort to him, but he seemed to accept my answer and got his things and went on into school.

And I cried all the way home.

I cried because I wanted to be able to tell him that everything would be fine.  That he wouldn’t ever have to worry about an intruder coming into his school.  That he was safe from harm there.  That we lived in a place where things like that just don’t happen.  But I knew I couldn’t say those things truthfully.

Because we live in a town where a man goes into the Walmart parking lot and shoots random people.  We live in a town where a husband kills his wife and himself in their own home while their child is at school.  We live in a country where evil men gain access to guns and mow people down at an outdoor concert.  We live in a world where a woman drowns her own children because they were getting in the way of her relationship with her boyfriend.

Our world is overwrought with sin.  And with sin comes pain and loss and death.  And being a parent in the midst of all that is hard.  You want to shield your children from it all, protect them from the ones that would set out to do them harm.  To tell them that everything will be okay and they don’t have to worry.  But sometimes there’s just not a comforting answer.  Sometimes the truth is just scary and the best way to deal with it is to be prepared in the event that something bad happens.

Last week there was a news reporter in the park lot of the school asking parents in the pickup line if they talked to their children about active shooter situations.  When she got to me, she asked if I’d like to go on camera and share my thoughts, to which I of course replied “no, thank you” on account of my hair looking completely inappropriate for TV.  But even beyond that, I don’t know that I would have had a response at the moment.  How do you talk to you children about such horrible things?  You want them to be aware, but you also don’t want to scare the living daylights out of them at the same time.

So I called my husband this morning in tears…my level-headed, military-minded, always prepared husband.  (God knew I needed somebody who could take a fearful situation and make a logical plan.  Stuff like this tears my nerves slam up.)  He and I going to sit down together tonight and have a conversation with our boys about it all.  I think that’s really all you can do sometimes.  Keep the lines of communication open, talk through the fears, prepare them for the world as best you can, and pray.

I am curious though…if you have children, do you talk to them about what to do if there’s a shooter at their school?  And if you’ve had that conversation, how did it go?