December 19, 2012 | LXXII, No. 38

Needed: a loving freedom

Jess Shut Up

Last week in Connecticut, our country had another major tragedy. This time a sick young man walked into an elementary school and killed kindergartners and some staff. Pure, unblemished faces of the young meeting the violence of our new society head on, in an act that is incomprehensible by most. We have not learned a lot (by the time I started writing this) about the details, but we do know that it is obvious. The staff there gave their lives protecting kids. If this had not happened, more would be dead.

Over the years this has become more and more common. A theater in Colorado, a shopping center in Oregon, colleges, military bases and schools have become the battle grounds for sick individuals that have sought out the innocent for some kind of redemption. Once again we ask ourselves as a nation, why?

Some have blamed gun laws, either a lack of, or a weakness in, enforcement. Some say our children grow up entrenched in video games and TV shows that promote the cruelest acts of violence. Some say we need more security at schools. Some blame the medical and counseling fields for not recognizing these flaws at an earlier age. We blame parents, teachers, politicians and bullies. So where does the blame lie? Is it all of these or none? My opinion is these all play a role in one way or another, but they are not the solution or the answer to the greater problem.

We live in America, the United States of America. We are a free country and with freedom comes certain risks. Most of us in America take the responsibility of freedom and making choices with great honor and trust. I trust that my neighbor will not shoot my son for trespassing if he cuts across his property. I also trust that my son will respect our neighbor’s property and not trespass. Now kids will be kids, and in the heat of a game or silliness my son might run across my neighbor’s yard. Innocently in the wrong. I trust that my neighbor will talk to my son or me and correct this problem without any further problems. Now if my son continues to defy the respect of both of us, then a bigger problem arises. I do trust my neighbors to not turn to violence, still. But that is not the case everywhere and every situation might have different circumstances that make the freedom a little cloudier.

We like the right to vote, to have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, to bear arms and to attend free schools. We continue to vote in rights for all sexes, races, orientations. We can watch what we want to watch on TV, go where we want to go when we want to go. If someone stands in our way, we declare our rights as Americans. We might just have opened a can of worms here in America that we can’t shut easily. We cut funding to law enforcement and education. We legalize marijuana. We cut budgets and expect more out of the remaining. We have every right to complain about the things we don’t like, but very few of us do the things needed to make a change.

So what can you and I do? Talk. I talk to my kids and you to yours. We talk to our neighbors. We get to know one another. We talk to teachers. We don’t have to all be best friends, but we have relationships. When we see a red flag in someone or especially a child, we seek help for him or her. We look for the best in everyone and love them for it. We invite someone we know that’s struggling to church or dinner. We lend someone 20 bucks and don’t except to see it again.

The Friends of Rachel is a group of kids that care. This club has recently started in local schools. One of their goals is to eliminate bullying in our schools by paying attention and reaching out to the easy targets for bullies and keeping them in a safer place. Sometimes the simple act of saying hello to someone can change their entire outlook on life. There is proof in our schools right now.

Bad stuff will always happen. That’s just the way it is. As long as there is good, there will be evil. Our goal should be to push evil out of this area by loving and caring for all those around us. I know we are not perfect, but together let’s make our freedom a loving freedom.

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