Based upon the panicked volume and sheer number of pleas to Congress and the Federal government for immediate action and intercession, a casual observer might wonder if Florida has been invaded by a foreign power. Surely whatever tragic circumstance that has arisen must involve a hostile army, a biblical plague, or a natural disaster the likes of which we have never seen in order for an entire nation to turn its helpless and hopeless eyes to the central government and proclaim that government alone holds the resources, power, and legislative authority to save we the people from such calamity. However, these are not the circumstances we find ourselves in. What we are facing is a nation of 350 million people being paralyzed by a single man with one rifle.
Now, it is not my intention to downplay the tragic circumstances of what has happened. My heart is breaking along with the rest of America and my outrage cannot be overstated. When children become targets for any form of violence it should rightly shock our senses. Reading headlines of death, terror, and lost innocence should never be something we must simply accept as a new norm, or as the necessary cost of freedom. I am searching for answers as much as anyone else, and my earnest prayer is that we can find solutions to curb this pervasive trend of violence towards the most innocent and helpless members of our society. It seems apparent, however, that my instincts are not quite the same as many of my fellow citizens.
Freedom is a curious thing. We the people demand its blessings in fair weather and bask in the glow of its benefits, yet we often chafe at the individual responsibility entailed in free living and expect government intercession on our behalf when the weather turns foul. This isn’t to say that government does not have its place, liberty must coexist with order or neither can prevail. I can’t help but wonder, though, if our modern decision matrix is backwards. I can’t help but observe that by surrendering our fortunes and welfare to those who we think alone hold the power and authority to help us, we may only be guaranteeing our eventual victimization. In other words, we may need to consider why our first instinct in tragedy has become a demand to further empower the portion of government that is farthest removed from our, and our children’s, day to day lives. I believe it’s time to consider why we are not instead seeking ways to empower ourselves and our communities.
Perhaps it is too far removed a consideration historically, but I can’t help but wonder how Lexington and Concorde would have turned out had the minutemen militia simply grabbed hold of quill and paper to send letters to Parliament instead of organizing their communities into a unified and cohesive response to the threats they were faced with. Would Parliament have interceded and forged our new nation? No, we the people had to organize and respond effectively and build it from the ground up.
As I said before, my instincts are a little different than what appears to be current practice. When I am faced with hardship or tragedy I turn first to myself, then to my family, then to my community, and then to my government. I value the full spectrum of what my community and local government can bring to bear in defense of myself and my family, but I will not wait for others to act before mounting my own personal response and actively doing everything in my power to resist an attack. You see, from my perspective the police arrive to help me…not to save me.
There are many ideas we as communities should consider in response to this tragedy, but we are forfeiting the chance to have that conversation by retreating into our ideological cocoons and hoping that legislation predicated upon fear and emotion will empower the highest government authority to save us.
As I said earlier, we are not talking about a cataclysmic event requiring a herculean effort only the federal government can provide. We are talking about a single man with one rifle who faced absolutely no resistance to his evil designs. We the people are not so helpless as to be unable to organize our communities, our school districts, our police departments, and our local governments in order to develop plans of action and commensurate response so that anyone who enters our schools with malicious intent knows they will be faced with immediate and determined resistance.
A truly free society is a society where each of us recognizes that when such tragedy unfolds, the responsibility to act rests squarely on our own individual shoulders. Prayer without action is vain, regardless if it is directed to God or to Congress. Somewhere in our society, there is somebody watching the news footage and being inspired to attack our children. If he acts on his evil inspiration and walks through a school door with intent to harm, will he be faced with something different? We don’t need Congress in order to answer that question.