A farmer lived by himself on a distant rural road. News came that a terrible rain storm was headed toward him with the likelihood of flooding. The local authorities suggested all residents in the area evacuate to higher ground. The farmer said to himself, I am not worried about rain or floods, my God will protect and save me. And he stayed put.
As predicted, soon the rains came and the water began to rise. A fire truck passed the farmer’s house and asked if he wanted a ride. The farmer replied, “No, my God will protect and save me”. The rain continued and the waters rose higher. A rescue boat floated down the farm road which now flowed like a river. The rescue squad encouraged the farmer to go with them. Again, the farmer refused, saying “My God will protect and save me.” The rains continued. The waters rose even further. As the farmer watched from the roof of his house, a helicopter flew overhead. They offered to pull him to safety. Stubbornly, the farmer refused once more. “My God will protect and save me.”
Eventually, the waters rose over the house and the farmer drown. In Heaven, the farmer confronted God, saying, “I had faith that you would protect and save me, but you let me down.” To that, God responded, “What do you mean? I sent a truck, a boat and a helicopter.”
Many may hear this story as being about faith alone. I see it as God instructing us that we have options in our lives and the ability to make our own decisions. In this case, to avoid destruction. The solutions presented may not always be exactly what what we want, but there are often options that will address the issue at hand. Sometimes we have to make choices. We have to do something… or suffer the consequences.
The Leading Cause of Death
In this country we have a rising flood of gun violence. When it occurs in schools, it endangers the lives of our children. Recently, the CDC reported that the leading cause of death among children eighteen and under is gun violence. The number one cause! Since the beginning of 2023 there have been reports of 74 people injured or killed in school shootings. Everyone reading this must surely agree that we have a responsibility to do something to protect our children. Yet, by the end of last week, the horrific tragedy in Nashville had become “old news” once again.
Reconsider the Debate
From this non-profit platform at Be There Dad, I need to be careful about taking a political stand, so I will not. However, I can passionately advocate for the protection of our children. For the moment, I will change the focus of the debate. “Guns or no guns” has brought this country to a stalemate so that nothing is getting done. As much as I might object, I want to put that argument aside and let it continue to rage among others. For now, I choose to re-frame the discussion as simply, “how can we protect our children?”
In the parable of the farmer, it did no good for him to argue about the weather. The storms were coming and the floods were inevitable. The question became, what solution would he choose to protect himself against dying? For him there were at least four. He could have chosen one. The flood would have come anyway, but he would have been saved. He could have lived to argue about the weather later.
Like the farmer, there are options before us that will work to reduce gun violence and keep our children safer – even with the presence of all the guns in our country. (By the way, the estimates say there are more guns in the U.S. than there are people) Folks have their own opinions about what will ultimately work best. I am not going to argue that final chapter now. Today, I just urge us to do something. Now.
A truck, a boat or a helicopter. We can choose. We can choose to make it harder to obtain some weapons. We can enact more regulation…like background checks, waiting periods, age limits, or required training. We can commit more money to mental health care. We can fund and hire more school counselors and administrators to support our children. We can create and enforce red flag laws. We can choose not to re-elect representatives who do nothing or re-elect those who will. These are a few of the options. There are others.
But if we do not choose, if we do nothing, the waters will continue to rise. In short order, we may all be standing on the roof after the waters have destroyed all that is around us.
It Can Happen Anywhere
We now have history to show that school shootings could occur anywhere. Northeast, Southwest, Midwest and within any socio-economic, cultural or racial demographic group. Public, religious and private schools. If we think a shooting can not happen in our own schools, then we are just not paying attention.
When I hear our elected representatives say that the solution is complex, I think about my own kids. We taught them to respect each other. We taught them to talk to each other. We taught them to compromise. We taught them to come up with solutions. They did not always like doing these things, but they did what they had learned. And when they did not… play together, clean their rooms, act politely… there were consequences… being put in time out, losing privileges and being grounded among them.
I wonder why we can not expect the same from “adults”. Were we not taught to respect each other? Were we not taught to talk to each other? Were we not taught to compromise? Were we not taught to come up with solutions for the good of all? If we do not use those skills, then shame on us.
We act to create order rather than chaos. We put age limits on the right to drive. We require training and time limits before obtaining a driver’s license. There are applications and waiting periods for buying a house. There are credit checks for buying a car. There are exams required to become an electrician, a realtor, a doctor, a lawyer and others Some of those require fingerprints, background checks and personal references. There are state licensing requirements. Medical exams are required to obtain life insurance. The list goes on.
There are options. There are reasonable solutions. There are steps we can take to lessen the gun violence in this country. We all have the ability to effect change. Choose for yourself. Then, write to your representative. Talk with your friends and neighbors. Talk to your school counselor. Make your voice heard. Start a dads group at school. Experts tell us that the relationships built on the positive presence of adults can be opportunities for troubled children to reach out and for others to report concerns.
All the solutions are not perfect, but what we are doing now is clearly not working. In time of crisis often it is best to just take one step at a time followed by another and another. We can not accept the status quo. Let’s do something. Let’s not be frozen by focusing on our major disagreements. Let’s focus on where we agree… keeping our children safe. Let’s not make our children’s safety be part of just one more news cycle.