It still hurts. Bad. The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut is unfathomable. Twenty-seven people were shot dead, and 20 of them children under age 10. A parent should never have to receive the call that their child is dead due to gun violence. I live in Chicago were gun violence has become a norm. In 2012, there were over 500 murders in Chicago alone. Has anyone recognized that youth and young adults are at the heart of these gun violence tragedies—whether on the giving end or the receiving end? The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut was carried out by a troubled young adult on innocent children.
This kid, was not just some deranged psychopath in his 40s. He was 20 years old, barely an adult. In fact, most of these “murderers” whether in the inner-city or affluent communities are barely adults. At the core of this violence, is a youth, parental, mental health and spiritual crisis. I’m sending out a clarion call to parents everywhere: PARENT YOUR CHILDREN. Adam Lanza’s mother Nancy is a victim is this tragedy, regardless if she had guns in the house or taught her son to shoot. I don’t want to go into blaming the victim. We don’t know what their relationship was like. However, generally speaking, I can say that this should be a wake-up call for parents to pay more attention to their children. Get old school. Get all up in their business. There is no such thing as privacy as long as you live in my house. My daddy took the lock off my door as a teenager, because he remembered when he was a teenager. He knew I was up to no good. Of course, we don’t want to assume the worse of our kids, but we need to stop living in La-La land. We are at war for the hearts, minds and souls of our children.
I’m sending out a clarion call to religious and civic leaders: SHEPHERD YOUR FLOCKS. Feed this starving generation with more than just religion and rules. Give them hope—something to aspire to. Be our role models again. Another call goes out to the state legislatures: WAKE UP! WE ARE IN A MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS. Stop cutting funds to mental health. Let’s have real discussion about how we can get people in the community the help they need. Part of the problem, of course is getting people to recognize that they need help.
We also need to hold the entertainment industry accountable—be it gaming or Hip Hop. No lyric should be allowed to incite violence against another human being. We can argue “free speech,” but people are dying. We can’t possibly teach kids to avoid violence when we ourselves enjoy violent video games and violent, misogynistic rap lyrics because it has a nice beat. That’s just as bad as saying, “do as I say, not as I do.” Change starts with cleaning up our own house first. When are we going to start making hard sacrifices for the safety of our children and our community?
A note about guns
As stated by Father Michael Pfleger:
“Now is the time to Demand a REAL conversation about Guns! About Banning Assault Weapons, Closing the loopholes on purchasing guns (private sale, lost or stolen, mental illness) And TITLING GUNS LIKE Cars. We cannot simply talk about the tragedy in Connecticut or the streets of Chicago and refuse to take steps to STOP it from repeating itself again. If we don’t our sympathy is shallow…….”
What was the first thing people did after the shooting in Connecticut? They ran into the house of God. They bowed their heads in prayer for the survivors and for our nation. To remove God from the equation in solving our nation’s problems is like going up a creek without a paddle. Commit to prayer for our children and our country. Be open to dialogue and creative ways of creating change. Let’s build on the momentum of this tragedy. Let’s honor the memory of the fallen by taking action.