Like most Americans, I spent Friday alternately weeping, hugging my children, and wanting to kick someone in the ribs.
I have nothing to say about this tragedy right now. So I won’t.
I do, however, want to say something about the “kick someone in the ribs” reflex.
When tragedy strikes, we naturally want to find a way to stop it, to keep it from ever happening again, to fight back. Conversations about gun control, violence in the media, and a whole host of other things go into full swing.
And that’s great. Because those conversations need to happen.
But here’s what struck me. As important as those issues are, none of them are going to solve the ultimate problem: the brokenness of the human heart.
Don’t get me wrong–we need to address the societal issues. But really, we could do everything humanly possible to keep everyone as safe as we can, and there are still going to be crazed, broken boy-men who hurt people as a form of release.
And sometimes, I think focusing on policy issues, on things that one individual truly can’t do much to change, is a Big. Fat. Cop-out.
Since I can’t personally do much to influence gun control laws or video game makers, focusing solely on those issues means I’m off the hook. All I have to do is post something on Facebook and sign a petition, and I’ve won the right to rage against someone else’s stupid, nefarious agenda, to blame something outside myself for the mess humanity is in.
It’s their fault. Not mine. Don’t look at me, and the way my personal habits may be contributing to the underlying problem.
As Christians, I believe that “fighting back” against the darkness is part of our calling. But truly, “fighting darkness” is an exercise in futility. The only way to overcome darkness is to crank up the light.
And can I just be honest? As the mother of four boys, one of whom is a teenager, I can see where some of those societal problems begin. I can see where some of my personal policies need reform. Yes, my babies are great kids who would never ever. But the goal is not to raise children who will not be murderers (or alcoholics, or slackers, or cyber-bullies, or whatever). The goal is to refect the transformative light of Christ to a dark and hurting world, and raise our children to do the same.
Here are some of the ways I am fighting back against the culture of violence threatening to engulf our children:
-No video games more violent than Lego Star Wars are crossing the threshold of my house.
-Yes, I’m exhausted, and the kids just want to watch TV and play Wii. But we’re going to eat together as a family anyway.
-That stress I feel over work, school, deadlines, whatever? That’s my stress, and should not seep out to poison my interactions with my children. If I can’t cope, then I need to call a shrink, or take a quiet time, or whatever, not explode at my kids for being kids.
-Yes, it’s easier to let the cranky teenager hide in his room with the computer. But ultimately, it’s not good for him. Screen time for teens needs to be limited, not just on principle, but for the sake of their mental health.
-Derogatory words are not allowed, about anything or anyone, ever. Even if it’s just a friend making a flippant remark about something being “gay” or “retarded.” Nuh-uh. Smackdown.
How about you? What are some of the ways you are fighting back against a culture of violence?
Monitoring your child’s mobile use?
Choosing to be a stable adult, in an unstable world?
Volunteering at an after school program?
Changing your own language and behavior?
Mentoring a child, teen, or young adult?
Share your ideas! How can each of us do a better job of reflecting the light?