...So, I have been staring at my computer for a while, trying to figure out how I can possibly express the thoughts, feelings and emotions I have right now, in regards to the latest school shooting tragedy and the recent scary news about how stuff like this can hit so close to home.
Honestly, my heart is heavy and my mind is bloodshot levels of weary from reading, hearing and thinking about the Florida massacre, the news of a foiled attempt at a Fayette County school, and the two investigated threats that occurred earlier this week right here in our backyard that worried a lot of people, myself included.
I have spent hours watching the news, reading Facebook posts and online news articles, interviewing and speaking with school administrators, parents, law enforcement officials and even students about the recent national and local incidents, and now, reflecting on it all, as I try to formulate some sort of opinion here in this column, I just do not know what to say.
Except this: I am scared.
Scared because there is so much evil in this world. Scared because I cannot come up with the “right” words when my 5-year-old climbs up on my lap and asks me why so many bad things happen, and why does God let so much bad stuff happen if He really loves us.
Scared because it seems like every time I take my family somewhere in public — the mall, a restaurant, a movie theater — the first thing I do is look for the exits, strategize where we are sitting in case something happens and/or look around to see if there are any suspicious looking people near us.
Scared because as my son approaches his first year of kindergarten, I am already losing sleep about his safety when he gets dropped off at his school.
Scared because as this world seemingly continues to get more evil with each passing year, I wonder just how much worse it’s going to be by the time my son reaches high school.
Scared because the ongoing onslaught of violence is so commonplace and so routine that we are becoming desensitized to all of the madness. I remember when Columbine happened, how it rocked us as a nation and we talked about it for months. These days, it seems that the pain inflicted from the most recent tragedy is felt for a day or two until we all have no choice but to move on to the next tragedy.
Scared because whenever a tragedy happens, it should unite us as a nation, but instead it becomes yet another tiresome opportunity for people to be divided, to attack one another on social media, to shove their angry opinions and theories about whatever — Trump, gun laws, conspiracies — down others’ throats. Because apparently we are not allowed to grieve or mourn, or simply express our consolations and prayers, not when there is anger to be spit out.
Scared because there are people who are finding other things to complain about — such as whether or not there have been ACTUALLY 18 school shootings since the start of the year — when truthfully we should all be looking at the much larger picture. One tragedy, obviously, is too many.
Scared because this evil is capable of striking anywhere, even in our small, rural area. And scared because it shames me to admit that evil outbursts of violence are so commonplace that the first thing I feel when I read a story about a tragedy and realize it’s not in Greene County is relief, that “thank God it didn’t happen here.” Until it does.
Scared because there are many people who can’t seem to understand that these violent tragedies are not a simple, clear-cut, black-and-white issue. It’s complex, and multi-layered, and there are many elements that need to be seriously addressed: Easy access to guns, background checks, what our country’s leaders and agencies are doing about reported threats, mental illness, parenting, bullying, the ravaging opioid crisis, our school’s security systems, and so on.
Scared because there are people who believe that these massacres and tragedies are not real, as if they are living in form of denial, unable to accept the fact that real evil exists, and it is killing us.
Scared because even though there is a huge outcry over gun control, it doesn’t seem to matter what type of weapons are used when evil chooses to strike. Bombs, knives, box cutters, poison, anthrax — if it can kill us, evil will use it.
Scared because no matter who you are or where you live, you have to accept the fact that your doors must be locked and you have to become adjusted to the reality that you and your family, and your children are not safe. That you must spend most of your days looking over your shoulders and many of your nights sleeping with one eye open, hoping and praying that evil doesn’t strike you.
Scared because I don’t understand how, in our society, we have armed guards protecting banks and museums and fancy corporate buildings — but hardly any armed, professional officials protecting our most valuable resources, our children. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
Scared that no matter how much we seem to pray and ask God to save us, protect us from harm, ward off evil, we spend many of our waking moments thinking that maybe, just maybe, prayer is not enough. That evil is winning, and that the Rapture may be upon us sooner than later.
And last but certainly not least, I am helplessly, hopelessly scared because it just seems like not a dammed thing is being done to stop the madness.
So, there is my column. I know I offered no ideas on how to fix this, no suggestions on what can be done. Because, to be honest, I have none.
All I can do is encourage our leaders, law enforcement officials, government agencies and health care professionals to work together to address the many complex issues affiliated with these tragedies — gun laws, background checks, mental illness, the drug epidemic — and also encourage our schools to be more proactive and implement strong safety plans to protect our children even more.
I also ask those on Facebook and other social media outlets to carefully think about what you post, and to think about — and maybe even pray for — those families and communities who have been impacted by these tragedies, and for those who use social media to spew their anger and vicious tirades to further their own opinions and agendas, even when tragedies strike, I ask that you Just. Stop.
And lastly, I will continue to ask God to protect us, to keep us safe and to stop the evil from winning.
Sadly, the possibility that evil has already won is what ultimately scares me most of all.