Happy Labor Day Weekend, Your Child Just Got Murdered in School
The week before Labor Day, a child was murdered at Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It was the first week of school and during the lunch hour, one of the students shot and killed a 15-year old boy. The perpetrator fled the scene and was caught six hours later. He is currently in jail awaiting trial. On the day of the shooting, the high school was immediately placed on lockdown and the students were told to hide in their classrooms. One girl told her teacher that she’d actually seen the boy getting shot. She was in total shock and her teacher did everything she could to calm her down. The psychological, social, moral, and spiritual impact on these kids must be enormous. They must’ve been tremendously terrified and frightened about the whole situation. If you were a parent, I don’t know if you’d want to send your child back to a school where something like that had happened, especially if your child had seen the shooting take place right before her eyes.
There was an even worse incident down in Florida over Labor Day weekend. The perpetrator was a mentally ill war veteran living in Tampa, Florida. He had a job and a girlfriend, but his mind was going downhill. He was dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression and was holding it together until he started going to Church. Shortly after, he started feeling like he was communicating directly with God and thought that God was dictating him to do certain things. One day, he was driving and saw a guy mowing his lawn. He stopped his car in front of the house, went up to the guy and said, “God has told me that somebody named Ashley is in this house and she is about to commit suicide. I need to talk to her.” The man then told him that nobody named Ashley lived there and politely asked him to leave. He left, but a few hours later, he came back with an arsenal of guns and body armor and claimed that God had told him to kill everyone in the house, which is exactly what he did; he killed the grandmother, the man he had met mowing his lawn, his girlfriend, their 3-month old baby, and the family dog. He also shot their 11-year old daughter seven times, but she played dead and the guy left without realizing she was still alive. The girl survived seven bullet wounds and is in the hospital in critical but stable condition. She is expected to live, but she’s going to have a lot of trauma to deal with. The perpetrator got into a big gun battle with the police, where he fired over 100 rounds before he was wounded and taken into custody.
These cases point out the desperate need for better mental help. This has to be our number one priority because we as a society cannot survive if this sort of thing goes on. We also need to start being proactive instead of reactive; we can’t just wait for something like this to happen again before we do things about it. We have to be preemptive. We have to set up better help and have better trained therapists. We also need to have a nationwide campaign led by political leaders on all levels - local, state, federal – so that we can join together and get the word out that hate, violence, and guns are not the answer. There needs to be a publicity campaign against this kind of violence because that’s one of the few things that’s going to help stop it. It doesn’t matter how many laws we have against guns, if people really want to go out and kill, they’ll do it. We need to strike at the root of this by having better mental help and training more therapists on how to handle violent people because these people require special treatment. They require you to really understand why they’re feeling so helpless and powerless and why they want to kill others.
We also need to move toward the political center. Right now, our politics are polarized. On one side, there are guys on the far right like Trump, and on the other side, there are idealistic Democratic socialists. Somebody needs to start a political party that can draw people in from both sides. I think a lot of people from the right and left would be willing to accept a party that is dedicated to moderation, compromise, conversation, talking, and advocacy. My fear right now is this: how many people are going to fight for a Democracy in which your child might be shot in school any day at any time? Nobody wants to live in that kind of society. I believe we must solve this problem of violence before we can hope to do anything else, before we can fight for inclusion and women’s rights. Getting this type of violence under control is essential. We need to be talking to people who understand violence, who have lived through it, and who can guide therapists and political leaders. We also need to move toward the center because at the moment, there are two political extremes and we are constantly fighting with one another. We need to come together in order to find a solution.