by Ryan Krzykowski
Last week you watched and read about Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida, and how a former student “began shooting students that he saw in the hallways and on school grounds”, killing 17 students and staff members.
The scene and stories were heartbreaking and gut-wrenching, and as I think about it, I’m realizing that this is troubling on many levels.
Most obviously, there is the senseless loss of life. As we have seen too many times before, there are people who showed up to school or work having no idea that the day would end in tragedy. As a public school teacher myself, it’s nearly impossible to imagine how that feels or how difficult it would be to work through the range of issues that must be dealt with in the aftermath of the shooting.
For me personally, growing up and beginning my teaching career across the state on the Southwest Florida coast, Stoneman Douglas High is on my radar. I have heard of that school. I’ve been there. The degrees of separation are far fewer than what I’m used to when I hear about school attacks. This one hits just a little closer to home.
And then I take another look at that last paragraph I just wrote. I just typed the phrase “what I’m used to when I hear about school attacks”. It’s hard to think about that and not feel a rush of incredible sadness. Why should any of us, in any way, be used to hearing about school shootings? I will never forget April of 1999 when fifteen died at Columbine HS. It took about a week or more for the shock to wear off, and I was over 2000 miles away. That’s not to say that I shrugged off last week’s attack at Stoneman Douglas, or that it didn’t feel like a big deal. It’s a very big deal. But there’s no denying that it felt different — I’ve apparently become at least a little bit desensitized with respect to a situation like this. And I hate that. I absolutely hate it.
As coaches, as leaders, as adults, as Americans we have to be part of the solution to all this. But it feels a little bit hopeless, like we’re too far gone, which frightens me. It was encouraging to read about two men, victims who died last week, who are being hailed as heroes for saving the lives of students. These men were Coaches at Stoneman Douglas. Aaron Feis was a football coach who shielded students from bullets, and Scott Beigel was a cross country coach who herded students out of harms way and was shot while attempting to lock a classroom door.
In chapter 17 of the Gospel of John, Jesus prays for those who would one day come to faith in Him. His prayer is that we would “be one”, replicating the inseparable bond He shares with the Father. May it be so.