Searching For Relevance


February 16, 2018

Once again, hate and violence have entered the corridors and classrooms of our country’s educational system.  In fact, the tragedy of this past week in Parkland, Florida marks the 18th such event in the United States this year.  As a parent, I cannot fathom the heartbreak these families must be experiencing having said, “goodbye” to their children Tuesday morning as they headed off to school, never to say “hello” to them again!

It’s just beyond me!  And there is nothing anyone can say that will change the events, mend the hearts, or make right the future for those families.  So like most of you, I have no answers or worthy responses to the questions in my mind, little less the questions people ask of me. What I do have, as a result, is a question I would offer for each of us to think about.  It is:

           “What is the life of even one of those children murdered Tuesday worth?”

Can any of us place a value on any of the 17 children killed lives?  Wouldn’t most of us agree, “They’re priceless!”  Especially if they’re our own children.  Truth be told many of us would give up anything and everything to save the life of our children, should that be necessary!  One teacher did!  So then why, if you’d make the ultimate sacrifice to save even one of those lost Parkland children . . . why can’t we give up, the near religious fanaticism that fuels the belief that our right to “bear arms” is so sacrosanct, it’s untouchable?  Why can’t we seem to even begin discussing what a reasonable and sane solution to this horrible, senseless and recurring violence might be?  

No, I don’t believe that increasing gun control is going to singularly make this reality go away.  Anyone wishing to kill others could simply get behind the wheel of a truck or car, and we’ve seen this happen!  Likewise, I’m not naive enough to believe that the systemic roots inherent in our culture that breed and foster such outbursts of violence, whether they be mental illness, drugs, broken homes, decline in education, etc., will be addressed by limiting access to certain weapons.   However . . . we have to start somewhere.  The gaping wound in our society, unlike any other in the world, is repeatedly being reopened, and we have done what as a response?  It’s time the bleeding is stopped!

It’s time to cease posting notes of condolence on social media, as well as offering up words of sympathy and sorrow, though heartfelt they may be, and begin to put our private prayers into concrete actions.  Following the mass shooting in Las Vegas, there was all kinds of talk about ending the sale of bump stocks — the add-ons that enable a rifle to fire with near the rapidity of an automatic weapon -  but to date, all that’s happened is talk!  And even that has ceased, and will . . . until it happens again.

So you may and should respond in whatever way your conscience calls to you.  I am simply expressing my concern and outrage regarding the unnecessary loss of life.  And I can’t help but hear as a response to my own prayers,  the words of Jesus that, “… it is not the desire of God that even one child should perish” (Matthew 18:14).  So I will be contacting my representatives to request they quit talking around this subject and begin addressing it.  That they cease saying how sorry they are and as a minimum honor these students by honestly discussing what they can do, to the best of their ability, to prevent this from occurring again.  If “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” for those wishing to perpetrate violence, then the same must hold true for those intent upon stopping it!

After all, the real question is, “What could possibly be worth more than saving the life of even one child?”

Sincerely, In Christ,

Rev. Dr. Keith A. Haemmelmann