I was just on Social Media saw someone upset at the school shooting in Florida today. Every school shooting is like a sledgehammer that shatters your heart into a million pieces, at least it does mine. So I’m doing what writers do, I’m writing and calling us all to action.
I’ve seen lots of attacks on “thoughts and prayers.” I understand the feeling they are having. Here’s the issue though exchanging thoughts and prayers for judgment still leaves us in the in the same predicament. I think we can all agree are a great first step but we can all do more. In a day or two most of us will forget this ever happened, go back to watching the Olympics, listening to our favorite media outlet who will just keep underscoring what we already believe, and go back to Keeping up with the Kardashians.
You can count on calls for mental health reform and gun control in the days and the weeks ahead. The answer to both of those that we definitely need more vigilant and unified gun laws with more emphasis on background checks. But for tomorrow lets focus on what you and I can do. Everyone wants to wait until “they” do something when “you” are the one that can do something right now.
I want to offer 4 things that we can do starting now.
1. Listen & Look:
There is no doubt we have a mental health crisis happening. Every day we hear of someone taking their life or the life of others because they felt like no one was listening and no one cared. After these events occur we often ask countless stories of how the signs were everywhere. Many times it’s the kids that have been ignored, expelled, or have just found the cracks in the system. Stop judging these kids and go love them.
When someone tells or shows you they intend to hurt other people, believe them. The student that killed nearly twenty of his classmates Instagram was full of him in masks and holding guns and knives. Parents pay attention to your kids and what they post. I know life is busy but we are counting on you.
If you know someone is threatening to hurt themselves or other people. Get them help, report to those in authority. Take them seriously. If we don’t stop to care the blood is on our hands. If you know someone that is ignored be the one that pays attention. Tonight there are kids going to bed without a Dad, there are brothers crying in their bed because sissy didn’t come home from school, there is a mothers pillow soaked in tears. It is time to let them know we care by not just our presence but by our action.
2. No one is Disposable.
When someone falls through the cracks and system doesn’t work for them because one size doesn’t actually fit all we have to stop throwing people away. We have to stop writing kids off. My seventh grade Math teacher wrote me off. Told me I would never amount to anything. I’ve spent a good part of my life proving him wrong. I still suck at math, but that’s why they invented calculators, plus I’ve never actually had a need for algebra the last 25 years. Stop writing people off. The kid in Florida had been expelled which meant he didn’t fit anymore. The alternative school didn’t work and there was nothing more the system could do for him. Go find some people that have been disposed of let them know they matter.
3. Stop being So Mean:
I honestly can’t believe I am making this one of my solutions but most adults I know have become meaner than a middle schooler. As Taylor Swift asked, “Why do you have to be so mean?” Seriously have you watched any of the news networks or read any of your friend’s Facebooks posts? There’s a 100% chance that many of them are yelling at whatever is wrong with someone they don’t agree with. We are modeling hate to one another. Remember the good old days when we all didn’t agree but still managed to not kill each other? That’s what actual tolerance is. (Oh and I’m completely prepared for someone with an agenda that doesn’t agree with me to say terrible things about me.) Seconds after someone succeeds at something the internet swells with people pointing out their past sins and failures. We have become vultures waiting on someone to fall and are ready to feast on the flesh of their failure. We MUST stop pointing fingers and lock arms.
4. Get involved with your community:
Call the Boys & Girls club and offer to be a mentor, get involved with students at your church, show up at your kid’s school with breakfast for the staff and teachers (they are overworked and underpaid), offer to tutor kid’s who can’t afford to pay for one. The issues are the same in the inner cities as they are in suburbia. As my friend Josh Shipp says, “Every Kid Is One Caring Adult Away from Being a Success Story” I can name a list of men and women who did little things that changed the trajectory of my life. Ms. Shoun my Third Grade Teacher, Mike Aylestock my youth pastor, Bobby Finch and his father who took the time to care about a kid crying out for what a real man is, Mark Dewesse that allowed me to speak to teenagers when I still was one. You have a list too, go be the person that you needed when you were a kid. Josh reminds that that the other side is that that, “Every child in one decision away from being a statistic.”
4. If you are a leader in public schools or serve students in the local church and want to bring a school assembly program to your community please reach out to me and I will be happy to help by either coming myself or put you in touch with many friends who also do the same. This isn’t an ad for me, I just want to be sure that Hope shows up even if I don’t do the school assembly. If you are a business leader and want to help underwrite school assemblies in your community I would LOVE to connect you to a community that needs the resources you have. Please contact me via my website or direct message on any of my social media platforms. Seriously if this is you I want to help.
I get it we are all busy and it’s much easier to complain about a problem on the internet and hope that someone else or the government. We the people are who actually makes America great again. Washington isn’t going to solve this problem. They can’t even all agree on celebrating people getting jobs. So let’s stop waiting for them to do something and do what we can do from right where we are.
I hope we all actually do go beyond thoughts and prayers. Please keep praying there are lots of hurting people tonight but please don’t stop there. In the New Testament of Bible that called you to pray in the book of James we are reminded, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”