Parents, I wonder how your children came home today.
They may have come through the door like a human hormone cyclone: exploding loudly through the room and leaving a trail of clothes, shoes, and backpacks—before raiding the pantry and departing quickly to level another section of the house.
They may have come in without a sound: head down, ear buds still embedded, communicating with only a series or grunts and nods which you’ve somehow magically learned to decipher.
They may have come in exuberantly after making the football team or devastated by a text-delivered break up or frustrated with that Math grade they can’t seem to get any higher than really low.
I don’t know how your children came home today—but likely they did come home.
If they did, get on your knees and be grateful.
If they did, consider yourself fortunate.
Some children didn’t come home today.
Some children died in their school.
Some children were taken violently in the glorious prime of their radiant young lives—and what’s worse, is that it will barely be news in America for more than a day.
Some children didn’t come home and our politicians and many of our citizens barely lifted their heads beyond quick, empty thoughts and prayers tweets they think exonerate them from culpability and exempt them from action.
This is because too much of America is losing something critical: we’re losing our outrage when children are murdered with guns.
We’re losing the ability to be rightly moved to sickness at what we’ve become.
Too many of us have forgotten that kids aren’t supposed to get shot in schools like this; that this isn’t natural, that it is a global embarrassment, that it is the shared sin in which we are complicit.
I haven’t forgotten.
I haven’t forgotten that right now more parents are walking through a personal hell that no parent should walk through; one that thousands of parents and grandparents and neighbors and boyfriends and best friends and classmates are forced to walk through every single month—a hell that is largely preventable.
America needs to recover its outrage.
It needs to revive its compassionate heart.
It needs to reclaim its soul.
Our people need to treasure the lives of children more than we do the weapons they are killed with.
We need to stop clinging to antiquated words about “well-armed Militias,” while our schools and shopping malls and churches and concerts are becoming war zones.
We need to stop making excuses why we have the highest rates of gun violence in developed nations.
We need the professed “Pro-Life” Christian community to loudly advocate for the sanctity of gun victim’s lives.
We need Conservative politicians to get out of bed with the NRA so that more children get to bound through their own front doors, raid their parent’s refrigerators, and sleep in their own beds.
We need to stop perpetuating the ridiculous nonsense, that the way to reduce gun violence is to give more people more guns.
We need to figure out a way to create a country where an elementary school student or a teenager not coming home is such an anomaly that it is again newsworthy, that it is shocking, that it does set off an alarm in us.
The children who didn’t come home today deserved to come home.
They deserved to be watching this sunrise, to be a part of this day, to be doing all the noisy, goofy, unpredictable, beautiful things that young people do when they come home.
Their parents deserved to have them come home; to be dealing with all the sleeplessness and laughter and stress and bittersweetness that parents experience each day trying to help their children navigate the normal minefields of this life.
They don’t deserve to be planning funerals.
No parent deserves this.
I’m not okay when children don’t come home.
I don’t think any of us should be.
I’m not okay with a political party beholden to guns and the gun makers.
I’m not okay that my 12-year old daughter has to do active shooter drills in school, so she learns where to hide when a violent person shows up with weapons no non-military human being outside of a war zone should need.
I’m not okay that hundreds of kids were terrified or sent frantic texts to their parents and scrawled their names on their arms with markers, so they could be identified.
America, we are badly broken and we need to be fixed.
Actually, we need to fix ourselves.
We need to face our gun problem—and yes, it is a gun problem.
It is other things too: an anger problem and a mental health problem and a violence problem and a bigotry problem and a toxic masculinity problem—but make no mistake it is predominately a gun problem: our easy access to and our singular advocacy for and our blind worship of them.
We need to do something with the greatest of urgency and without delay.
We need to make sure more children come home.
Republished with permission from John Pavlovitz.
John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. A 25-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside faith communities. When not actively working for a more compassionate planet, John enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, cooking, and having time in nature. He is the author of A Bigger Table, Hope and Other Superpowers, Low, and Stuff That Needs to Be Said.