Life is full of paradox.
Last week, Indian Mound Middle School, where my son attends and I work as substitute teacher, held an "Intruder" drill. Like many school districts, McFarland School District, is constantly discussing, preparing and training for a possible "intruder" event. It is mind-numbing to even think about it happening in our schools. Sadly, it is happening all too often in our schools and in other places in our society.
This morning, as I was dropping my son off at Indian Mound Middle School, we noted a bumper sticker on the car in front of us. It read: "Happiness is a Warm Gun." Sam and I had to discuss what that type of statement meant, especially with the recent shooting of a middle school teacher in Nevada and the young student who then turned the gun on himself and their preparation for a possible intruder at his school.
And then there was this quote from a letter a parent had written to her child's teacher following an intruder drill at his school. It was on Facebook by a friend of mine who works in the Monroe School District: "After the last intruder drill at my son’s school, the children were talking about all of the 'what if’s' that could happen in their music class. Their music teacher, a gentle, caring, soft-spoken man listened to each concern and took time to logically address each one. My son, who normally has nightmares after the intruder drill day, raised his hand and asked his music teacher what would happen if someone had a chainsaw and forced their way into the class. 'I would die protecting you.' This teacher’s soft but strong answer made tears roll down my cheeks. Why? Because I have no doubt that this gentle, humble soul — who would choose Mozart over violence any day — would certainly keep that promise. I know that this teacher, who wants to bring joy to children and to teach them the joy of music, must go to work each day knowing that he may have to give his life for someone else’s child."
At the same time, as we approach the one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, where 20 children and 6 adult staff were slain by a young gunman, Huffington Post has been sharing a story about President Obama's personal reaction and response to that particular shooting. Here is an excerpt from the article:
"The president took a deep breath and steeled himself, and went into the first classroom...Person after person received an engulfing hug from our commander in chief. He’d say, “Tell me about your son. . . . Tell me about your daughter,” and then hold pictures of the lost beloved as their parents described favorite foods, television shows, and the sound of their laughter. For the younger siblings of those who had passed away—many of them two, three, or four years old, too young to understand it all—the president would grab them and toss them, laughing, up into the air, and then hand them a box of White House M&M’s, which were always kept close at hand. In each room, I saw his eyes water, but he did not break. And then the entire scene would repeat—for hours. Over and over and over again, through well over a hundred relatives of the fallen, each one equally broken, wrecked by the loss. After each classroom, we would go back into those fluorescent hallways and walk through the names of the coming families, and then the president would dive back in, like a soldier returning to a tour of duty in a worthy but wearing war. We spent what felt like a lifetime in those classrooms, and every single person received the same tender treatment. The same hugs. The same looks, directly in their eyes. The same sincere offer of support and prayer. The staff did the preparation work, but the comfort and healing were all on President Obama."
As a pastor who has had to share tragic news like the death of a loved one, I can only image what it must have been like for President Obama or any person who had to provide comfort and care that day. As a parent, I pray that we all might wake up to the insanity of the ongoing violence and senseless shootings happening in our schools and in our communities. I pray to God for that day to come when as the writer of Revelation (21:5a) says: "God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away...And God will make all things new."
"Happiness is a Warm Gun" is what the bumper sticker read. I wonder if the father has ever talked with his child about the paradox of the message conveyed on his bumper sticker, the intruder drills his son participates in during school, and the tragic school shootings like Sandy Hook? I pray, he has. If not, at least it helped me have a conversation with my son. Hopefully, this post will help you have one with your family and friends as well.
Is "Happiness is a Warm Gun"? I pray to God it is not and yet, for some....