In the light of recent school shootings I have been thinking about the world we are creating for our children. I have six children and 3 1/2 grandchildren. Five of my children are grown and already frustrated with the world today. My youngest child is only in the 3rd grade and my grandchildren are between 20 months and 4 years. I worry about them.
When I was in grade school, the worst thing we had to worry about were bullies that blustered and hit. Now these young children are bringing weapons to school.
When I started jr. high we did have students in a couple of the local gangs. I was sick on the day that they scheduled a fight on the school field. According to news and my friends they brought chains, knives and one or two guns. This was a one time occurrence in the three years I was there. Our biggest problem was still bullies who blustered and hit.
Things started to change in high school. Up until this point in my life I had never been afraid at school. In my junior year in high school it was announced that we had a rapist on campus. We were to travel in groups at all times. This was especially after school hours when we were on campus for extra curricular activities. This is the first time I was introduced to drugs. I didn’t ever try them because I have always thought it was dumb and my parents would have skinned me alive. But joints were shared by leaving them in the crook of a tree and people would walk by and take a drag. In light of what is happening today this is not a big deal. We were never afraid for our lives. We never worried about people going “postal” at school.
When my older children were still young gangs were becoming a serious problem. My oldest daughter had a drive-by shooting at her junior high school. Parents were becoming violent at their children’s sporting events. I even had a friend who was beat by a parent and spent three days in the hospital. Why? Because the parent didn’t like the call my friend had made at his 8 year-old’s soccer game.
What has caused this change? I think that the father of a Columbine student said it best during a congressional hearing in 2009. He said, “The real villain lies within our own hearts.” I was always taught that my rights ended where another’s began. Now there are those who, out of selfishness, demanded that their rights be acknowledged even when it requires the suppression of the rights of others. As we have been forced by laws to systematically remove God from schools, public places, and politics it has created a spiritual vacuum in our world. The levels of intolerance, hate and violence have risen to the point that even our children have begun to harm each other.
Our children often feel a sense of futility and helplessness when faced with the world their parents have created. There is violence everywhere they look. They are told that life is only rewarding if they indulge themselves at the expense of others. Selfishness and blaming others has replaced kindness and personal responsibility. No wonder they turn to violence when they feel wronged or hurt by the normal unfairness of life.
Have I depressed you enough? I am sorry. I do have a solution to brighten our small portion of the world. It starts “within our own hearts.” The hardest part, I think, is taking personal responsibility for all of our actions. It is also the most important. When we realize that we can control our own thoughts, words and actions then we can do something to change them. By choosing to do small kindnesses we can make a huge difference in someone else’s life. If we all took the time to pass on the small kindnesses given us they can ripple out and change the world.
Find the joy in life and the laughter will follow. Do a small kindness this weekend and let us know the results.