Social media (followed by more traditional media) crackled with the news of a school shooting on Friday. We tensed with “What? Another one?”
The place was a small high school in Galveston County, Texas. The school was Santa Fe High School located in a town founded on a train line running between Alvin and Galveston.
At that moment, it became personal.
Santa Fe was home from 1983 through 2000. I preached for a small church on the highway. We lived in a comfortable 1600 sq. ft. home nestled in a quiet neighborhood. It was the perfect place to raise children–quiet, connected, and easy-going.
Both of my children attended Santa Fe High School. My oldest daughter’s high school diploma bears the Santa Fe Indian logo from the class of 1999. Even today, two band jackets emblazoned with SF gather dust in our closets.
My heart breaks for so many families. I have known dozens. I have spoken to classes and programs at that school. I have known teachers and administrators. Nothing tears at your emotion as much as the grisly images of panic and helicopters removing the wounded.
Again, America asks, “what do we do?”
We tend to give glib answers and short-term anesthesia answers. They make us feel good, but given the short news cycle, it fades away like the gun-barrel vapor (as evidenced by how quickly news channels abandoned it for a royal wedding).
I have no answers per se. Suggestions from well-meaning people address symptoms but not the cause. We want to grasp and quick, comfortable, and immediate fixes. Like a poisoned weed in the grass, if you don’t get the root, you get the weed again.
We have put value and virtue on the shelf of culture to mold and rot. We emphasize our freedom (listen to the rhetoric on all sides). We love our freedom. We are Americans.
Free people know the secret to staying free. They maintain high levels of responsibility for action and discipline of self.
What we have buried responsibility with every victim. The greatest freedom comes when people of all ages and stripes emphasize their responsibility, not their freedom. Parents train children to be responsible adults. Politicians who help do not posture and placate, but will restrict their freedom of speech and action to show responsibility.
Responsibility breeds discipline. Again, we have put the shovel in the heart of obedience. Children seldom get scolded (lest we bruise their fragile self-esteem) and don’t even talk about punishment. Lawyers, judges, and sociologists enforce laws in a way to please the masses.
The apostle Paul quoted the maxim, “a man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:6). Hosea told his people, facing their own destruction as a society, “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7)
I fear wind speed is increasing.
The fix for our problems is not found in legislation. It’s not discovered in demonstrations in streets. There is no fix. A bandage does not stop a mortal wound.
There’s only the hard work of teaching ourselves and our children that we must respect each other and stop acting out our emotions. That means responsibility gets ingrained in a generation and each individual exerts self-discipline.
You cannot get that through the legal arena, a street demonstration, or a candlelight vigil.
Heart problems changed through the inner turn of each person on an individual level.
You may dismiss this as the ranting of a crazy man. It’s not.
It is the cry of a broken heart.