We’re all searching desperately for answers that don’t really exist. In the wake of over two dozen murders, most of them young children, we want to know why. We must stop it from ever happening again. Everything will be questioned. Too many guns. Not enough guns. Asperger’s. Homeschooling. Metal detectors. Police in schools. Mental Health. Bullying. Prayer in school.
The truth is, none of these are the answer. Because these are all ideas and things and laws. And it’s people who maim and people who died. The closest answers are those who call for society to change. But who is society? When we talk about it, it’s always the other guy, the other parents, the other kids.
Society starts with me. And you. Together we make the change. Not them changing. Me changing.
How? Is it new laws or rules? No. It starts in your own life and in your own family. You love others. Show kindness. To everyone. Especially the forgotten and the rejected. And those who don’t deserve it. Just as Christ did.
When my oldest was in kindergarten, a classmate would crawl under the table and bite her ankles. I spoke with her teachers about it, since it was a recurring problem. They must have expected the typical kindergarten mom response, because they were a bit surprised at my suggestion. I asked the teachers to move them so that they sat next to each other. I knew the boy was having a rough time. His parents were stationed overseas. He cried a lot. And for some reason he wanted my daughter’s attention. So put them together. Help him learn how to interact in an acceptable way. Don’t isolate or punish him. He’s five and he’s trying to figure out life. She never had problems with him again, and they became friends.
We have an unspoken rule at our house. Bullies get invited over for playdates and birthday parties. Not so I can torment them for making my child miserable. But to love on them. To treat them the way I want my child treated, the way they should be treated. My older children have forged unexpected friendships by simply reaching out. Maybe we made a difference. I’m not saying we changed the path of a future Adam Lanza. I just know my children have turned miserable situations into friendships just by reaching out. It’s how we change our own world, our own town where this could never happen.
Don’t be fooled, though. Both my older kids have bullied others. They’ve pointed out someone’s unusual height, participated in not including someone, bad-mouthed or whined about an unfair situation. As a parent, it’s my job to step in and set it straight. It doesn’t matter how bad someone smells, you don’t say anything. In fact, the unspoken rule comes into play. I have been known to insist that my rude child sit with his/her victim at lunch or play with them at recess to practice the appropriate behavior. Being nice isn’t easy. It’s unnatural. In times of great tragedy, we step up and our goodness shows through. Everyday life is so very different. We have to make ourselves be kind. Love our neighbors and our enemies.
And then I realize that teaching them kindness and love is much different from showing them how to love others as I love myself. What do they learn when I comment on someone’s attire or driving skills? What do they learn when I break the unspoken rule and don’t invite someone over? How do I handle those who have wronged me? What have I taught? Because really, they learn more from what they see, not just what I say or make them do.
I believe the best way to prevent the next massacre is through love and kindness on the individual level. For me, that love comes from the grace and mercy I received through Christ. Maybe that love will heal someone’s wounded soul.
Today, I will love more. I will be kinder. Will you join me? We probably won’t know the difference we made, but we must have faith that we can make a difference.