I teach at an urban high school. I lost one student to an industrial accident last year. The second student of mine died due to gun violence. My first period class is gathered now in the Monday morning aftermath. This kids are being tight-lipped about it; while assuming a business-as-usual demeanor. I am sickened by the thought that this senseless loss of life apparently means nothing.
Our principal spoke earlier how he was affected by the loss, citing how he considered the loss as a father. I welled up. His death will continue to be meaningless if we don’t stop and consider the value of the lives around us. There is considerable banter about guns and revenge and disrespect. How much respect everybody owes me and what will happen if I don’t get it. “Cause you don’t know who you are dealing with . . . ” all said from a standpoint of fear as if attempting to convince myself.
The actual circumstances surrounding the incident seem unknown. Discussions surrounding the shooting abound but the participants may be the only people with real information. Street law forbids “snitching” or providing law enforcement any details of a crime. So many people invested in street culture keep information locked-down also. This is the circumstance that stimulated the creation of the newer maxim: “If you see something, say something”, an appeal to improve public safety outcomes.
I had hoped that the loss of this student’s life could be a sign to all that life is precious and it is brief. The Bible says . . . ” For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.” James 4. We mourn for loss of life, but do we change as a result? Around the tables of NA and AA, it is said that the death of every addict is a sign for others to work on recovery. I feel like there should be a similar sentiment, every senseless violent death should encourage us to support nonviolence, gun reform and community restitution.
I am offended by the sentiment that in order to be safe we must all be carrying a firearm at all times. That we are responsible for our own safety. The inference is that we are responsible for ourselves at the expense of the firearm manufacturers and NRA lobbyists who have the right to profit from created turmoil and from “outlaws”.
Let people of good faith consider the cost of firearms and the destruction and death of our children. Let us pray that wisdom and grace will prevail and that we will have the courage and boldness to hold up a standard before the world.