By Andy Weddington
Friday, 16 February 2018
Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. Norman Cousins
Remember when, long ago, schools were sacred ground?
Hunting grounds these days.
On this morning's news was a brief clip of a father standing at microphone surrounded by an as if protective crowd - he spoke about the death of his son; murdered at the school in Florida on Valentine's Day.
His wife was home.
His words could not possibly express their grief.
He looked and sounded a broken man.
I thought of my sister.
She a teacher and now front office administrator - who has had a hand in crafting, carrying out, and supervising security protocols at her elementary school; to which we've discussed.
For perspective, though not a Marine she has the spunk, spirit, and sage of a Marine.
She is a no-nonsense leader.
With her in mind, that distraught father had my undistracted attention. I hung onto every word and bit of motion. Because his son could have been my sister or either of her children (one an elementary school teacher).
The man's body language more telling than relatively paltry words. Composure remarkable and understandably on the edge.
In an instant - by a heavily armed, calculating, demented coward - his innocent child's life taken.
What is he (and his wife) to do?
Agencies and systems and checks and balances in place to mitigate this sort of attack failed. Miserably. Again.
Alibis and extenuating and mitigating circumstances are of no consequence. Excuses.
For all the failure, seventeen - students and teachers and coaches - slaughtered.
Last night I read one of the men was 49, the school Athletic Director, and Navy reservist who deployed to Iraq in 2007.
This morning I heard the story of two students, both in the school's ROTC program, whose quick thinking surely saved dozens of children from any harm (but not the emotional trauma some may suffer for a long time perhaps for life). During the interview impressive their calm and presence of mind under unimaginable sudden stress. Leadership. Outstanding.
Too, this morning, I read the attacker confessed.
Confession - the highest form of proof.
Why delay his fate?
Florida's Attorney General remarked surely they'd seek the death penalty.
Never. The shooter's execution will not resurrect the dead, ease pain in the living, nor necessarily serve as deterrence.
Mental health focus?
More bureaucratic policies and programs?
Return to God?
Arguments aplenty and ongoing - whilst someone is planning an attack.
Some will die while leaving many to live with something inside dead; as that father I saw this morning.
After an attack, our society's response is pretty much the same. Talk - "This must never happen again." And yet it does.
With each, sadly, it feels as if a state of tolerant inevitableness.
Maybe that's reality.
And so ...
No one is immune and everyone has duty to engage.
For in our chaotic world, with hazard at most every turn, a tiny fragment of information may preempt tragedy.
That we absolutely know - from tragedy after tragedy.