Yesterday we learned of another school shooting. This time it happened in New Mexico, with the shooter being a 12-year-old boy.
Everyday we watch the news and it is easy to come to a place where we live in fear of the way wickedness seems to be creeping in. The “safe places” in our world like schools, roadways, and homes at any point can be invaded. One student in this event was quoted as saying, “I don’t feel safe ever going back to school.” I know students in Denver returned to their campus last week with much fear and trepidation.
I live in the “hood.” It is an under-resourced neighborhood full of all the typical stereotypes a street like this can carry. Just last year, we had someone shot and killed across the street from us (thankfully, we were not home at the time). Areas like ours make the news so often that our nation can become desensitized to its trauma. In contrast, CNN made this statement about the New Mexico shooting: “The school is out in the middle of nowhere north of Roswell. It’s just not a place you’d expect something like this to happen.”
No matter if you have never heard one gun shot in your life, or a million, you bristle at the sound. Something in your ears perk up, and adrenaline begins to pump through your veins. I don’t really think there is “anywhere” you “get used” to something like this. I also believe that no matter the crime statistics of your area no one “expects” a shooter to come into those places we think of as “safe.” Schools are supposed to be a place where you go and know “nothing will happen.” My students remember when they installed metal detectors and school uniforms to reinforce safety.
In every situation, we seem to hear about “heroes.” In this particular case some students ran towards the gunshots, because a teacher needed help. These people haven’t thought of themselves as “heroes,” they simply instinctively stepped up to help. At the same time, those who respond out of fear and hide are not cowards. It feels awkward when reporters interview anyone on either side of this occasion and ask the question: “How did you feel?” How does anyone “feel” when your life is threatened?
Today when another 7th grader was interviewed about the “shooter,” he was described as “quiet and a little bullied.” I don’t think anyone at the age of 12 just wakes up one morning and rashly decides to shoot people. Something is broken in their spirit. There is a hopelessness that has taken over. At some point they have come to feel like nothing will get better, and “this is their only choice.” It isn’t true, but their perspective has narrowed to focus only on pain and the need to change it. The shooter in my neighborhood was a young teen attempting a gang initiation. He thought being part of something bigger was what would “fix” His life.
I think when we get to a point where any shooting anywhere ceases to truly bother us, then we have forgotten that there are people at the heart of these issues. There are always “casualties” caught in the crossfire: whether in the “hood” or “middle of nowhere.”As a friend of mine noted on Facebook,
“When does anyone, anywhere “expect” something like this to happen?”
No, not even on my street is it an expectation. No one ever gets used to it, or over it. We can’t live in fear, for then we cease to trust in Jesus. Still with every piece of news we need to be reminded to pray daily for students and be aware of the hurting around us.
Thanks for praying for students,