This goes with a complimentary post:
After the horrific Sandy Hook Shooting a week ago, where almost thirty people were brutally murdered, I was sent this post written by fiction novelist and analyst, Joel Rosenberg. It doesn’t take long to infer he is a classic right-winged W.A.S.P. Actually, I agreed overall with what he had written in his post. But I was irked by it too. It seemed so . . . generic.
Indeed, Americans need to be better, different, remade.
Yes, we need our schools to be great (we just differ on how this looks).
We want our politics to be awesome (again, where we are all but unified).
Indeed, we should stop bad people and keep guns from bad people (yes, that includes both concerned sides of the gun debate).
Then, undoubtedly, we really need our families to improve.
Oh, and maybe we shouldn’t let our eight-year-olds whittle their days away playing Assassins Creed.
We need to stop sinning. Pretty sure that is a given.
(On a quick side-note, no pointing fingers! We are all guilty of sinning, so stop saying it is the people who kill their babies’ fault, or God’s wrath on us because some people sleep with whomever- I’m pretty sure self-righteousness, pride, lying, lusting over porn, etc… all qualify as sins too).
Lastly, it should be obvious that there is evil in our world, even though there is a lot of good stuff in the world too (Look at my rant on this here if you haven’t yet).
To all of this- No kidding!
Not to be mean to or anything, but thanks for stating the obvious, buddy (Rosenberg)! Even so, maybe sometimes someone does need to state the obvious.
Yes, we need help to be transformed, and I believe we should pray. I believe we can only be remade by seeking out the life Jesus promises (for many reasons, feel free to ask why).
But instead of focusing on guns, politics, prayer, schools, religion mixed with politics, views on abortion, video games, military, etc… all which are not agreed on and are hotly being debated in the wake of Sandy Hook, my question revolves more around how we can be practically proactive on something we can agree on.
In case you haven’t read a version of this blog post yet, this is a must read:
After reading this, and pushing aside our initial “What the ______!” reaction, I have no doubt EVERYONE believes we need to help parents and children like these.
Why are Michael and Adam Lanza the way they are? Are they born with crime in their DNA? Are they products of their environment? Do they just have terrible mental illnesses? Could it be more than that? Do they have demonic influences?
I don’t know and this is where we will start differing in our opinions again.
But what I do know is that even if Americans are remade and there is a “revival” in America, that doesn’t guarantee horrific things like the Sandy Hook Shooting will disappear. I don’t think more people being quick-fixed “saved” will change our world, not they have true life-change. Then, if someone prays over a loudspeaker at school, verses just with their friends around a flagpole- that isn’t going to make a school immune to a violent upheaval either.
Why? Because you need less than .0000001 percent of the population to do terrorist-like activities.
But what we can do, proactively, is look around us and start caring for parents who are readily asking for help, like Michael’s mom. If we had relationships with friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and actually chose to get uncomfortable enough with them to actually talk about more than the weather, then we might be able to support families who need it.
I am part of an experiment called the Art of Neighboring. One of the challenges is to know families around you so well, you actually know the state of their marriages. Or maybe, in this case, the state of their children.
You see, I need people to help me parent. I know others need that too, and feel honored when people I know are willing to consider things I have learned. What if we lived life with people so we could be there for them when they have an out-of-control kid? What if we hosted community parenting classes, advocating for parents when they confess their child scares them? They don’t have to agree with everything we say. It requires a certain vulnerability to have conversations like these, a vulnerability we don’t often embrace.
It goes beyond parenting, but about being there for students, about being there for young adults as they find their way in college, in the world.
Am I so naive to believe that if we are attentive to those around us, if we learned how to have healthy conversations with those in our circles, even if challenging, lives could be spared? Am I so naive to believe that living life with people literally changes the world?
Why yes. I think I am.
Then, the other obvious factor is that another scenario needs to be available rather than just throwing thirteen-year-olders with mental illnesses in jail. I am not sure what that looks like, but it looks like something. Who will raise up to the challenge to make that happen? Who already is making that happen? How can we support their work?
Yes, of course I want the people in our country, heck, in our world, to be spiritually transformed. I think we should seek this, pray for this, and ya, ask God to heal our land. But having real relationships with people around us and coming up with immediate solutions to help families like Michael’s is a practical stepping stone that I think we can all agree on. This might be vague, but it is less generic than “God Save America.” It is better than just arguing about what is wrong; who is wrong.
And, now that I have effectively written a whole blog post on the subject, I must humble myself by saying I need to be more aware of those around me. I have had friends talk with me about their children’s mental illnesses, and I was either skeptical or didn’t really know what to say. I didn’t offer to help them or walk through their unique situation with them, and for that I am sorry.
God, please change me to be aware of and compassionate for those around me. When it happens, help me to have a clue on how to be there for a family walking through these types of situations. Please transform us to care for the Adam Lanza’s of the world and know how to fight the “rulers and authorities of darkness” which the Bible’s Ephesians tells us our real battle is against. And as always, thank you for your love and bigness, even in the midst of suffering like this. You are enough. Amen.
Again, the companion post to this one is found at The Average Advocate, where I typically blog. But as this didn’t really fit the theme of that website, I decided to post it here on my personal blog instead. Be sure to check it out and sign up to receive those posts!