North to Home

Forgive us. We have made sacred ordinary and deadly things. We are here on the hard edge, buried deep in our culture and honoring, like faith, things that can fail. Deadly, murderous and aggressive, we have allowed ourselves to believe that there are reasons. Feckless and mired in a kind of paralysis, we are losing the most important gift we’ve been given-our children, our loved ones, and the cost appears to be our souls.

These are not sacrifices. These are willful throw-aways. The culture has reached out into a starless night on a pointed tip forging forward and destroying, burying precious and holy things.  Parkland, Florida is a watershed. The dead call out for honor, memory–and for life again. It was not supposed to be this way.

I teach. This is not academic and no pun is intended here. Every day, every class, I work with young people with the primary objective of giving them the tools to be good citizens. That’s always what teaching was about and in a free country, being a good citizen meant teaching people to wonder, to be curious and to consider the good–the best life to live. 

Now, faced with what is obviously the dual sword of a culture gone terribly awry and its people seemingly ignorant on what to do, we do not act. We pray, sometimes sincerely and we hope–but we also allow time to pass, doing nothing and wallowing in the expectation that all will be well. It isn’t-and it cannot be well.

First things dictate that the slaughtered innocents be memorialized and honored and their families cared for. For us of faith, this is not an affectation–but a rite and an obligation. God calls us to this compassion and we must demand it of ourselves. 

That compassion, then, needs to extend to very practical and obvious steps. I’m not willing to debate gun control with anyone. I’m not a gun advocate. It seems to me that the second amendment can remain perfectly in-tact while also instating restrictions, licensure, background checks, mandatory training, limitations on various manufacturing and certainly, a ban on automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons. 

Compassion also dictates that schools take security far more seriously than they already do. Whether armed guards or simply monitoring every entrance and exit and checking identification of all who drive or walk on to a campus and perhaps limiting access to one entrance and one exit, school officials must stop taking daily operations for granted.

Once practical applications have been made in schools and in our society to limit the kind of losses we have suffered as a country, we then need to address ourselves. The issues of mental health, broken families, abuse, drugs and the slow erosion of a moral center and compass are worthy of serious discussion from all sincere contributors and all walks of life. Perhaps schools can even take a serious look at what we have abdicated in favor of what has passed recently as “rigor” in classrooms. But really, the schools are mere microcosms of  what is happening, writ large, in the culture. Generations of throw-away children, broken relationships, a kind of desensitization of violence and a culture that continues to worship fame and wealth over community and  shared  experience have not given us progress. Rather, we have isolated ourselves into factions, feeding off what we believe and seeking to know less, not more.

If we are to stop the wantonness and murder, empty promises and preening politicians will never be enough. Concrete practical action followed by a willingness on the part of families to commit to a new desire for peace, love and healing led by role models who do more than just seek the power of office, will be the new true north. Only then can we hope for peace. Only then will we be home.

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