The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida was the deadliest mass shooting since the devastation involving elementary school children in Newtown Connecticut. As of this writing (the morning after Parkland) this is the 6th school shooting in the 45 days of the new calendar year of 2018.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami expressed that “we all are understandably outraged when innocent children are made victims of senseless violence. The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, encouraged us “to unite our prayers and sacrifices for the healing and consolation of all those who have been affected by violence in these last weeks and for a conversion of heart, that our communities and nation will be marked by peace.” But, following this school shooting, after recent church shootings and concert shootings, former FBI agent and now CNN analyst Phillip Mudd made it clear as he wept, “A child of God is dead.” You can watch the video here.
OK, OK… but… What’s next?
A week before the shootings, New York Times columnist David Brooks was on the trail of a possible path out of the present situation. In the article he suggested that this new world requires a different sort of person and that this person is a change–maker.
Change–makers are people who:
* Can see the patterns around them
* Identify the problems in any situation
* Figure out ways to solve the problem
* Organize fluid teams
* Lead collective action and then continually adapt as situations change.
The descriptor of a change–maker is one who utilizes a “cognitive empathy-based living for the good of all.” Which might just be a God-reference or two short of a description of a disciple.
As we work with young people, are we imagining:
* Young people who will grow into BEING disciples
* Young people who will FOLLOW the teachings of Jesus as disciples; or
* Young people who MAKE beatitude-based CHANGE as disciples of One who commissioned them to “Go!”
While gun control debates will be reignited, how might we engage young people to solve the issues of mental health, disengagement of their peers towards the fringes, and safety within their own school and within the culture in which they live?
Have we engaged the next generation to be part of the change or do we give them permission to only remain in fear-filled victimization?
And what difference does that vision of young people a missionary disciple changemakers make in your family, in your school, in your church programs?