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So much anger directed in the wrong places... A response to the Parkland school shootings.

In the wake of this recent most recent school shooting I find myself very angry.... I see and understand a lot of facebook posts deriding some people prayer as a response to these tragedies only to be followed by another post shouting you can’t take away my guns.

I always try to avoid being political online because it rarely does anything except start fights... I am always trying to find effective way to communicate answers that will bring real change. Splitting the crowd online with a divisive opinion no matter how heart felt it is won’t bring the change that I might want, in actuality it may only make someone even more divided and unable to hear reason .... please read on if you dare.

I’ve spent the last 30 years of my life working with teenagers and their families trying to help them find hope and reason. I’ve been there through every situation you can imagine. From unthinkable shootings to Family destroying suicides. How we are currently dealing with our young people may not be working as well as we want. What I can tell you today is that we are facing problems that are much greater than just mass shooters in our adolescent community/culture. I see these problems as directly connected to the shootings. We must face these issues and problems, first as individuals and then as a county and finally as a culture.

We have to address all of these....

1. We have a huge teen suicide problem. Young men predominantly use guns to end their lives. In our context today our shooters on almost all occasions were deeply struggling emotionally. All boys. Most had already had contact with mental health professionals but it takes a long time to travel with someone out of the dark depths of depression and despair. I see these shootings as extensions of their suicidal ideation. “It is how they want to go out”. We first need to see sickness and brokenness without political eyes. Policy never fixes emotional/mental health problems.

2. We have an access to weapons problem. The availability of lethal devices is staggering. As young man I accidentally discharged a weapon in a home.... (I destroyed a refrigerator). We are often just stupid in how we treat these devices. If you are an adult and have a weapon,at the very least put a trigger lock on it. The weapon I found was just leaning against the wall loaded.

3. Starting the discussion with Don’t take away my guns is a non starter.... we have these big problems as a nation that we need to talk about rationally.. Don’t shut down the discussion.

4. Starting the discussion by mocking those who are praying for a situation is also a non-starter. This is a kind of theft of hope that can push people too far. We can’t be teaching our kids that there is no place for bullying while becoming an online bullies ourselves. Do not shut down the discussion. Prayer often moves people to action, but prayer alone is also not the answer.

5. We have to address our current approach to working with difficult children in our culture. Whatever we are doing as a culture is simply not working. The medication route we have taken seems to have some serious drawbacks. We need to rethink and re-engage. We need to open our eyes to the brokenness that we seem to be missing on a far too regular basis. Take a look at this short video and see what you might be missing.

6. We have to address the brokenness and isolatedness of our current American Family structure. We need more help as moms and dads, especially if we are trying to raise tiny humans on our own.

So what are we to do? You have heard me say don't just be a problem identifier, be a problem solver. If you are an adult and you are reading this you have a choice to make right now. Will you finish reading this and do nothing or will finish and you do something? I'm suggesting a few things here that may sound a bit strange but at least it is a start. My prayer ( yes I am praying for you ) for you is that you will start with something.

1. Reaching out to the kids in your family and your neighborhood asap. Hugs, high fives, affirmations, let them know that they are a part of your life. Tell them they are loved and valuable and worthy.

2. Look harder. Kids who are hurting wear very convincing masks. Their mask says everything is "okay" when in reality they are in chaos and turmoil. You have to look harder and spend time with kids and students before they will ever let you glimpse beneath their mask.

3. Come alongside families by loving them....lets recreate real neighborhoods where community is deeply present and "Get off my lawn" is never heard. Lets provide direct support for families that are struggling with higher needs kids. In short let us love the people where we live. Let us be people that lives out grace.

4. If you want gun control, by all means work for that with all your might. However, do not demonize someone with a differing opinion. Remember your goal is to protect people not hurt them. Yes, your words can deeply wound people and only make the problem worse.

5. If you oppose gun control, by all means work hard to protect the second amendment but do not attack or demonize people with a differing opinion from you. Your goal is the same protection as well. Do not be drawn into situations where nothing good will come of it.

6. Recognize that this is a multifaceted cultural problem that no one move will solve. However you can begin to point this next generation in a better direction than has been done previously. You can engage them in deep relationship. We can be more than sideline adults we can be mentors and trusted confidants.

There is so much more to say. I'd love to hear your comments below.

God's Love is always True

Pastor Mike

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