I add on to an earlier post I wrote soon after the killing in Connecticut. Reading the events of today, with the two bombs planted and detonated for the purpose of causing harm, fear, injury, and death directed at random people enjoying a well-known event, make me want to revisit this writing of mine about school shootings and the dangers that threaten our security as people in America. I wrote it during a passionate moment when I was considering the nature of the times in which we live. We aren't in Kansas anymore. We must wake up. None of us will enjoy a sense of safety if evil is allowed free access to ferment and grow, especially if good things and wholesome concepts are not a part of who we are as a people. I want more for my children and grandchildren than to live in fear or where life has little value, where it is not considered intrinsically of worth. Of course, I do not know who placed the bombs at this time, so no conclusion can be wrought in this writing. It may not fit the circumstances....but, I believe it is worth repeating anyway.
My thoughts and prayers to each and every family impacted by today's horrific bombings, and for our nation with its loss, during its time of need.
May God Bless America,
Norma Brumbaugh Wieland
April 15, 2013
Three days ago a young man went on a killing rampage at an elementary school in Connecticut after killing his own mother. As I watched President Obama say the words we all were thinking, I had to agree, it's happening all too often. Something is terribly wrong. Last night I penned the words that follow for a facebook post. We must force ourselves to look at the bigger picture, to see what is becoming a reality in our society. There are many reasons that people do these horrid crimes against humanity. One can't lump them in a tight group. But it can't be just mental illness or access to guns. Here is what I wrote last night.
Lockdown thoughts...my two-cents: A year ago I went through a lockdown at the school where I taught. A shooter was on the loose. It happened at dismissal time. We were told that the school was going into lockdown mode. I called a couple students back who had just gone out the door, and I initiated measures to protect my students. The kids thought it was a practice drill, but I thought it was legitimate because of the timing. A few minutes into it, one student asked me, "Do you think this is real?" I said, "I think it may be." Soon another child said, "Do you think we will go to heaven today?" We didn't know what was up for 45 minutes until the Superintendent came into our classroom and escorted children one-by-one to their parents. It had been a nearby shooting, at a taco truck down the street from the school, the gunman at-large, his home across from the school. Scary stuff.
Yesterday I was making a connection. In other countries the shooters, destroyers of innocents, come in the form of suicide bombers. In our country, it's the young adults who've been raised in a country that glorifies death, often called "the culture of death." We are short-sighted when the news people think it's just about gun control. I've seen evidence that our children's minds are being influenced in a trend toward violence. Three years ago I started witnessing something new in my classrooms, while I'd be teaching a lesson in a small reading group, Ks and 1st graders would point with their fingers and sometimes make shooting noises at random times during a lesson, pointing at other kids or at me. It didn't matter what group. In the past I was used to seeing children pick up sticks at recess play to use as weapons (although we would stop them) which one would come to expect, but now shooting was so automatic in their video-game-focused minds that it would spill out at all-too-frequent moments like an automatic extension of themselves. Some children could literally not stay awake in class because they played their game systems long after their parents were asleep. I think, the entertainment business has a lot to answer for...but no one talks about this, only gun control.
Meanness is in, in case you haven't noticed, another common denominator in movies and in the whole area of bullying. In bully-prevention courses we learn that the bully does not see the targeted victim as a person, they are seen as an object, an animal or less. If we want to look even closer, it has become socially acceptable in some areas. As a nation we kill...we've made it legal to kill the unborn...the so-called unwanted...and in extreme cases...the living who have no voice or value. I'll never forget the images of a woman starving to death when she was denied hydration and nourishment, and we as a nation watched this for almost two weeks, every day I wondered how much longer she could last, and ultimately, the judge and doctors turned their back on her. Do you remember this? I changed the wording in my Will because of that travesty of justice. What is the message to our children, to our citizenry? I am angry in a sense, we need to wake up and stop being so blind.
SOOOO a solution....Let's make our communities and nation into a "culture of life." Let's show that everyone has value, intrinsic value because they are a person and they matter, that we care enough to encourage healthy experiences. We need to help people in need. We need to want the right things for our children. We need to teach about a higher power, a loving God. Why? If we take this even further, we can step back and see that a lot of this violence also relates to our distancing from God and His teachings. Without moral teachings or constraints, or a better reason for doing right, people can do dehumanizing actions towards other humans. I think we need to reverse this trend. Encourage the thoughts embedded in the Ten Commandments, that anchor a life in the ways of gracious living and culturally sound principles, in such a way that they are understood in the inner recesses of the human soul. I know it won't eliminate wrong but maybe it would help, and just maybe, there could be a few less innocents lost in our schools or public settings.
Norma L. Brumbaugh Wieland
Author: The Meeting Place: Moments with God at Lookout Point