She’s too young to be so forlorn, but when a reporter asked the teen if she was surprised that a mass shooting struck her high school in Santa Fe, Texas, she replied it was only a matter of time.
Literally, days after Oliver North, the incoming president of the NRA, called a group of student-activists “civil terrorists” for demanding we adults do something – anything – about gun violence, another mass shooting occurred on an American high school campus.
The great majority will do what we did the last time: We’ll move past the wreckage and the trauma. We’ll tell ourselves what we always tell ourselves: Kids are resilient; they’ll find a way to carry on.
We’ll pretend there’s a “getting over” playing dead so you won’t die or watching a classmate bleed to death.
We’ll pretend we never heard the experts’ warnings that, untreated, the emotional damage left in the wake of such incidents will result in more tragedy.
But to change this national equation means someone in power will have to sacrifice his or her own ambition for the greater good, and, well ...
High school has always been difficult to navigate. You’re taken out of the comfort of your elementary school and thrown into a social maze where you spend four years trying to find out where you belong.
Learning how to mix with others isn’t easy, but it’s what makes the high school experience invaluable.
It shouldn’t, however, be downright dangerous. No kid should have to wonder if today is the day he’s going to die in a classroom closet.
It shouldn’t be this hard. Not in Chicago. Not in Jackson Township, Ohio. Not in Santa Fe, Texas.
Last year, the U.S. had more school shootings than 12 other industrialized countries put together – by triple digits.
It’s time to stop pretending such things don’t happen in certain types of communities – high achieving, privileged, homogeneous – when that’s exactly where they happen.
It’s also time for more parents to become jerks; that is, to be a lot more nosy and intrusive.
How could your kid be enamored with Nazism and you not know it?
And let’s quit pretending there isn’t something fundamentally broken in a culture in which more young Americans have been shot and killed in school this year than have died in combat in Afghanistan.
From silent film shoot-’em-ups to video games, we are a nation besotted with gun violence.
We need to stop saying nothing can be done when, in truth, there has been little desire to enact the kind of changes voters have said they want.
It isn’t that we can’t do the hard stuff; we’re the country that cured polio, landed men on the moon and invented the internet. Money, fear and an addiction to power have weakened the will and obstructed the way.
We adults have the gall to harrumph and be shocked (shocked!) when student-activists curse and fail to give elected officials the deference they’re used to getting. But why shouldn’t they? They know what happened in Columbine, in Newtown, at Virginia Tech and even Las Vegas, and they know nothing has changed.
We’ve lied to them repeatedly about making things safer, then have the nerve to accuse them of making matters worse when they call us on it.
But they have nothing to lose. They’ve already lost their innocence and, in far too many instances, friends and classmates right before their eyes.
– Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @cgoshayREP