Three years ago, I was teaching journalism at a beautiful high school in Florida, and we held our district journalism conference at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Their journalism advisor is a superstar.
Her name is Melissa Falkowski, and now, she is a hero and survivor.
It is horrible to watch CNN and see a shaken friend describe a school shooting. I cannot imagine the horror of being there, hidden in a crowded closet filled with terrified teenagers.
Falkowski said they did everything right. They did what they were trained to do, and what they were trained to do was all that could be done.
The police came and did what they were trained to do, and it was all that could be done.
But an American mother with an ashen cross on her forehead was crying outside that school and 17 people were dead, killed by a lone gunman and an AR-15.
The man could not have killed those people without that gun.
The gun did not kill them; the man killed them.
But he could not have killed them without that gun.
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, a rare day combining repentance and a celebration of love.
A mother with red hair was crying in the arms of the mother who had the cross drawn in ashes across her forehead.
They loved their children and cried in the panicking knowledge that their children might be gone.
They loved each other and held each other against the panic and pain. Behind them another mother stood alone. Her mouth was open and she looked off into space.
Is it too late to repent?
Is it too late to repent for a nation so militarized that we feel a need to own an AR-15?
In the mind of those who feel perpetually wronged, in a culture where our heroes kill the many, the path to retribution is clear. And the tool is available.
Is it too late to repent a social-mindset that sees military-style assault as a solution to problems?
We police the world and the assault rifle has become a symbol of strength and righteousness against the many.
We have placed this symbol of death and retribution above our symbols for forgiveness and love.
We have the best-armed and best-trained police force on earth. We should be the safest people on earth.
We are not.
If more guns or more powerful guns in the hands of licensed gun owners who are humane, heroic and decent people could make us safer, we would be the safest people on earth.
We are not.
An American mother left church yesterday to get her children. On this rare Wednesday, she would take them home to celebrate Christ’s love and human love.
But then she was crying at her children’s school, tear-stained ashes on her face, her panicked friend screaming in her arms.
There were dead children on the sidewalk below a loving mother’s eyes in an unrepentant nation where a deranged and lonely anti-hero had taken down the many, again.
Because he could.
Reach Boyd C. Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org .