Earlier today, in Florida, a deeply disturbed nineteen-year-old gunman went on a shooting spree in Parkland High School. At the moment, the reports say that seventeen people are dead and fourteen are wounded. Things like this have happened before, but this time countless kids live-streamed the whole thing. As I sit here at my laptop, the horrific footage is just a click away. I confess that I have watched some of it. Naturally, it affected me.
How should Christians react? I know how the media will want us to react: with fear and righteous anger. Blame will be placed on various groups of people. We’ll be told it will happen “here” next. Different political groups will propose diametrically opposed solutions to the supposed epidemic, and they will all be asinine. We can be sure that the story, with the accompanied Snapchat footage, will be used repeatedly during midterm elections.
I also know what they won’t tell us: That our kids are far more likely to die in an automobile accident due to our own aggressive driving than they are to be shot at school. Only a handful of journalists will address the real problem: It is incredibly difficult to get basic mental healthcare for even the most deeply disturbed members of our society, let alone the quality long-term care they truly need.
So… I say, one more time, “Don’t panic.” Something terrible happened in Florida. We should grieve for the victims, their families, the gunman, and his family. We should pray for healing and restorative justice, not retribution. We should seek workable solutions to the real underlying problem. And we should never, ever, let fear-mongers hijack our minds. If we do, our faith will be next.