Well, it’s happened again. Another school shooting. The reactions are standard boilerplate at this point. Devastation of the affected families, students and communities followed by the calls for prayer and support and lastly, the finger-pointing and political maneuvering. You name the faction, I could probably tell you, word for word, what their response will be. I could also tell you the end result: absolutely nothing. If we really want to prevent these kinds of events from happening in the future, perhaps we could approach the problem in a different way.
America is a proud nation. We are most proud of what America produces. World champion athletes, life-altering technology and breathtaking works of art just to name a few. Everything of importance and beauty that we make, immediately gets a “Made in America” stamp and is placed on a pedestal as proof of the greatness of our country and our own greatness for living here. We need to come to terms with the fact that mass shootings are also an American product. Just as we claim responsibility for the great Americans that we produce, we must realize our society also produces mass murderers at an alarming rate especially considering the economic advantages we enjoy here. We must ask ourselves why. What is it about American culture that creates a mass shooter. Just removing guns wouldn’t solve the problem because, if nothing else changes, America would still be producing children and adults that WANT to kill masses of people. We must go deeper into the American experience to find the answer. We need to look at how we treat each other. Who do we embrace? Who do we exclude? Who do we ridicule? Who do we bully? How do we treat people on the fringes of the American mainstream? How do we protect the innocent? How do we listen and respond to the legitimate concerns of under-served communities and individuals? How do we treat those we deem as less intelligent than ourselves? How do we love each other not only as countrymen but as human beings?
American leadership isn’t only derived from military conquest and space exploration. We can also lead in deepening introspection and courage as we cast aside political differences and pursue real and lasting change. Instead of using these mass shooting events as a call to arms against those whom we feel are responsible, we can use them as a call for arms to embrace each other as one American family in crisis because that is exactly what we are.