Sometimes, if I decide to turn on the television to catch a dose of the news, I feel like I am an observer in some sort of odd movie. The characters don’t make sense, the plot is totally unrealistic, and I feel like by turning it off, I am honoring my inner child who is screaming, “that shit is scary”. I don’t want to be affected by the absurdity of it all.
Yesterday, I was touched by the overwhelming closeness of yet another school shooting. This time it was in my state of Kentucky. While hours from where I reside, it was the perfect example of how a typical day can turn into a nightmare. And while this unfolds, people are pointing fingers. They want better gun control. They wonder what kind of parents the shooter has because if they had been better parents this wouldn’t have happened. I get it. People want to be able to explain why something so horrid can occur in a high school tucked in a small town. Sometimes there is no explanation and if there is, many times it doesn’t make sense.
As of 2016, Benton, Kentucky had a population of 4,531 and there are only eleven schools in the district of Marshall County. Let that sink in. People know one another. They are a community. So imagine that each person was affected in some way by this tragedy. Three families lost loved ones and notice I am including the shooter. I do that because his family is as much a part of this scenario as the others. They too are feeling grief probably layered with a blanket of guilt as to why their fifteen year old son decided on Tuesday, January 23, 2018, he would walk into his school with the intent to harm.
Human nature leads us to blame others to ease our discomfort, but pointing fingers isn’t the answer. Instead how about a little compassion minus the judgement. I have often heard that in these types of situations to look for the helpers. Those individuals who lead by being of service. They are not wrapped in blame or judgement instead they are the people comforting. This community is now scarred just like every other community before them. My discomfort lies in feeling that this has now become the norm. No longer are we surprised by news of a school shooting.
On a seemingly typical Tuesday, 1,369 students entered Marshall County High School along with teachers and staff. They said goodbye to their families. Maybe some of those teenagers left their homes in wake of a disagreement. Maybe their parents didn’t say that they loved them and vice-versa. But then, in a blink of gun fire, their lives changed forever. That is the reality. No blame necessary. The landscape for this small community has shifted. So, show a little compassion, stop playing the blame game and maybe we can come together to be apart of the solution and not the problem.