AS a father who has successfully raised two children, and as a grandfather, I am dumbfounded and saddened by another mass school shooting in America on Valentine’s Day. For a part-time “nanny” responsible for picking up a granddaughter from school every afternoon, the murder 17 students in a Florida high school was just too shocking and incomprehensible to understand. Watching the profound grief of the family and friends of those innocent students murdered for no reason at all by a deranged young man broke my heart and yes, even as a man, I cried while watching my two precocious grandchildren Sofie, 5, and Olivia, 7, at home.
Olivia, an intelligent observant little girl, asked me last week, “Why are you crying, Lolo? Why are those school children killed?”
That made me pause and breathe deeply as I tried to think of appropriate words that will make sense to her young mind. What I came out was something like this: “Those kids were innocent victims as they did not do anything bad, nothing at all, just going to school to learn new things like you and your sister Sofie. By sheer coincidence, they were at that room when this crazy young boy expressed his anger in his former school without any thought that it is bad and a “mortal sin” to kill those young students with an automatic assault weapon that are normally used by soldiers in war. Most likely, that young man who massacred those 17 students and hurt a dozen more never was taught in his home or in his church (if he ever attended church like you) that it is MORTAL SIN to kill as it is against the TEN Commandments of God, ‘Thou shall not kill!’
“He probably did it to make other people miserable like him, because most likely he did NOT feel love at home, as his parents were no longer with him. He did not have a real family like you and your sister Sofie, as he was just living with some distant relatives or friends. You and Sofie have your dad, your mom, your grandpa and grandma, uncles and aunts and cousins. Catechism teaches you to love GOD above all things and to love our neighbors like yourselves always. Everybody is your neighbor! I am sure that you will never ever do something real bad like killing other students in school. Do you understand what I am trying to tell you, Olive?”
She responded, “I understand, Lolo. I will never hurt anyone. I am scared of guns!”
Even at that tender age of 7, I have no doubt that Olivia understands what’s right and what is wrong! The perennial question appears every time a tragedy like this occurs: WHY is it happening more and more often? What can we as a nation do to stop them or at least minimize their deadly occurrence? Let me expound some thoughts that are lingering my mind for days now.
Politicians, our so-called pubic officials, have been debating endlessly for decades to carve laws to prevent children from being killed, as both Democrats and Republicans cannot agree because of their narrow-mindedness and personal vested interests. They should and must agree on ONE thing: our children’s well being and safety! Banning automatic guns or assault rifles, granting to arm schools, or maintaining the status quo will NOT solve these problems. It is just a part of the complex solution.
Contributory factors, like drug use and untreated mental health problems, easy-to-buy guns or assault weapons without strict background checks and prolonged waiting period must be addressed seriously. We as voting citizens must demand from our elected officials from the president in the White House to the mayor of your city, with urgency!
Other equally important factors must come from all of us as members of American society. Families should go back to the old fashioned ways by looking at each other’s welfare. Time and time again, these disturbed kids show many outward signs before they commit those horrific acts. Family members, primarily the parents, must know these symptoms. If observed that any kid is exhibiting abnormal behaviors, it behooves one who sees something (out of the ordinary) to do something. Reporting it to authorities — like the FBI — MUST do what they are supposed to do in a TIMELY manner to prevent more tragedies.
Furthermore, I believe that the continuing deterioration of moral or spiritual values affect significantly the behavior of people in our society now. There is a direct correlation between the lack of religious education and discipline at home and the rise of school shootings. The father figure who used to exact discipline to their children is sorely missing in so many families now. That is also aggravated by a minority of atheists who opposed prayer or religious teachings in schools by separating prayer and teachings from the BIBLE (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth) from schools. Even moral foundations, like the Ten Commandments or spiritual reminders of our moral and ethical obligations have been removed from public places.
American history tells us that the moral principles and the pursuit of happiness and love of freedom were the very foundation of the United States. From the very beginning, the framers of the American Constitution have consciously included the acceptance of a Higher Power that is made quite obvious in opening prayers in many private or public events or major holidays. Even our coins of over 200 years declare “IN GOD WE TRUST.”
What is happening, it seems to me, are continuing trials and tests from God to see what we are really made of as a people. What we do now will be the beginning of what we do next, and cumulatively will bring us back hopefully to the grandeur of America that attracted millions of people to come here.
On the other hand, it is very encouraging to witness the idealism and hear the passionate and justified anger of young students of that Florida high school where the massacre happened, declaring that “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH” that they will bring these critical issues of gun violence to their state capital and to Washington D.C. to demand effective solutions. They vowed to work incessantly to make things change for the better, for their generation as the present leaders are failing them.
As adults, before leaving earth, we must do our best to help these young people carve their future, a better society than what they found it. As a grandfather, I commit to do something concrete (like writing this column) to assist them to achieve their dreams and ideals. May the Prince of Peace, the Supreme Being bless their quest for a more peaceful planet.
That is my prayers and challenge to all who is reading this.
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