How Did We Get Here?

editorial-logo3Last week was a difficult week for parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers and neighbors to understand. It is not everyday, but it is way too often, that a young person takes such heinous action against their peers and society in general in the way that happened in Florida last week. If if didn’t make you catch your breath and pause, you just weren’t paying attention. When did we become the place, the society, where our children massacre our children?

Today, I spent a little time at a fourteen-year-old’s birthday party. Watching the young faces so full of laughter and lightness, it was difficult to believe that in this group of hopeful young people there could be one, or more than one, who could be so savage to their own. I remember a time not so many years ago that teens stuck together. You were one of them just by being one of them. When did that change, and how do we get it back? I want to go back to the days when defiance meant staying out beyond curfew or not doing your share of chores. The kind of defiance that requires a gun should not even be a consideration for a group of people who have their whole life ahead of them.

I would never suggest that there are not some parts of growing up that can feel a little like walking through fire, and I know that not every teen is happy and hopeful. Let’s face it: this is a generation that is eating Tide. Their decision making skills are certainly not yet up to par, but they will come with time. The most wonderful thing about growth is that you don’t always have to be what you were. I want this generation and the ones after it to see just what they can be and where they can go.

The answer is not going to be an easy one. It has little to do with gun control or warning labels on Tide packets. The answer is much more complex and deeper. As adults, we are the decision makers and, apparently, we have not been doing a good job of decision making. There was a time in this world where parents would encourage their children to stand up for themselves when faced with adversity. Nothing, absolutely nothing, feels worse than letting yourself be pushed about or shut out, and we have spent decades now asking our children to do just that. Turn the other cheek, tell an adult just be sure that you don’t cross that line of zero tolerance. We took away our children’s natural ability to act and defend themselves, and we asked them to just helplessly accept what ever the world was dishing out. Why? We didn’t do that. We didn’t sit by and just take the punch. We punched back as hard as we could, and sometimes we got our rear ends stomped, but sometimes we didn’t. Either way is much better than just doing nothing until you are so angered that you will do anything. We asked our children to do nothing. Run away. Nothing is worth fighting for, not your values or your self respect, until they arrived at the place that we are today.

Parents, grandparents, family, neighbors, teachers, pastors, adults: it is time that we let our children take back their right to be angry and to defend themselves, so that the little situations do not become tragic. It is time for us to say no more to law and policy makers that deem zero tolerance appropriate because it is easy. It requires no judgment to treat the actor and the reactor the same. It is a lazy man’s plan and it is ruining our society. Everyone is not always right, and everyone is not always wrong. Why do we expect our children to live under a rule that is not only wrong, but that goes against everything that our nation has stood for for generations? We have some work to do, and it begins with our schools and putting common sense and judgment back into school policy. Otherwise, we will be facing this issue twenty, thirty, and one hundred years from now, only it will be worse than it is today. I, for one, don’t want to see what worse looks like.

Source: K. Depew, News Director