Today I awoke like everyone else to hear about another school shooting. This one was in Chardon, Ohio where one student died and four others were shot by a classmate who opened fire in the school cafeteria. It has been an all too common thread in our society – mass shootings at school, in church, at home, and in the workplace. Mass shootings taking place to supposedly right some wrong – perceived or real – are happening far too often.
On Tuesday, April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado, 12 students and one teacher were killed by two of their classmates. Another 21 students were injured. Watching the chaos was disturbing and haunting. Today brought back memories of that day in 1999.
It was a horror to watch then and many talked about ways to combat the violent responses by teens who are outcasts, from broken homes, depressed, bullied, into violent gaming, etc. Yet here we stand again in the midst of another mass shooting. We don’t yet know all the details but early reports suggest this young man was angry, bullied, and an outcast. Whatever his reasons for shooting his fellow classmates – it was not the answer.
The obvious questions will continue to be asked – where did he get the gun? Was it a legal purchase? Was it an unsecured gun? What had happened in his life to bring him to this point? Where was his family? What role could teachers and counselors in the school have played in preventing this horror? What could other students have done to reach out to this young man? What made him target those particular students?
But there are no easy or fast answers.
Right now I pray for the family of the student killed, for those who were injured and their families, for the alleged shooter and his family, for those students who escaped injury, for the community of Chardon, for the teachers and staff of the school, for the parents who worried about their children, and for God presence in all of this.
I wish I could snap my fingers and end bullying. I wish there was not a way these troubled and bullied people could get their hands on firearms. I wish these situations would become a tragic memory of the past never to occur again. I wish bullying would never end forever. I wish violence was not seen as an answer to slights and pain. I wish all gun violence would end. I wish for peace in the midst of this chaos and pain.
Until then – we pray for all of those involved and for our hurting world. We pray for a faith that sets us free from violence and pain. We pray. Lord, in your mercy.