Parents, did your children come home this week?
I imagine they did.
They may have come through the door like a cyclone; exploding loudly through the room and leaving a trail of clothes, shoes, and backpacks, before raiding the pantry and departing quickly to level another section of the house.
They may have come in without a sound; head down, ear buds still embedded; and when engaged, communicated with only a series or grunts and nods which you’ve somehow learned to decipher as some newly developed language.
They may have come in exuberantly after making the football team, or devastated by a text-delivered break up, or frustrated with that Math grade they can’t seem to get any higher than really low.
I don’t know how your children came home this week, but likely they did come home.
If they did, get on your knees and be grateful.
Bailey Holt didn’t come home this week.
She died in her school.
She died trying to call her mother.
She died violently in the glorious, radiant prime of her young life—and what’s worse, is that it was barely news in America.
Bailey didn’t come home this week, and our President and our politicians and the media hardly lifted their heads beyond quick Tweets of thoughts and prayers.
This is because America is losing something important: we’re losing our outrage when children are murdered with guns.
We’re losing the ability to be rightly moved to sickness at what we’ve become.
Many of us have forgotten that kids aren’t supposed to get shot in schools every other day; that this isn’t natural, that it is a global embarrassment, that it is the shared sin in which we are complicit.
I haven’t forgotten.
I haven’t forgotten that Bailey Holt’s parents are walking through a personal hell right now that no parent should walk through; one that thousands of parents and grandparents and neighbors and boyfriends and best friends and classmates are forced to walk through every single month—a hell that is largely preventable.
America needs to recover its outrage.
It needs to recover its compassionate heart.
It needs to recover its soul.
We need to treasure the lives of high school students more than we treasure handguns.
We need to stop clinging to antiquated words about “well-armed Militias,” while our hallways and shopping malls and concerts are becoming war zones.
We need to stop making excuses why we have the highest rates of gun violence in developed nations.
We need the professed Pro-Life community to loudly advocate for lives like Bailey’s.
We need Conservative politicians to get out of bed with the NRA, so that more children get to come home to sleep in their own beds.
We need to stop perpetuating the ridiculous nonsense, that the way to reduce gun violence is to give more people more guns.
We need to figure out a way to create a country, where an elementary school student or a teenager not coming home, is such an anomaly that it is newsworthy, that it is shocking, that it does set off an alarm in us.
Bailey Holt deserved to come home.
She deserved to be watching this sunrise, to be a part of this day, to be doing all the noisy, goofy, unpredictable, beautiful things that 15-year old children do when they come home.
Her parents deserved to have her come home; to be dealing with all the sleeplessness and laughter and stress and bittersweetness that parents experience each day trying to help their children navigate the normal minefields of this life.
They don’t deserve to be planning her funeral.
No parent deserves this.
I’m not okay when children don’t come home.
I don’t think any of us should be.
America, we are badly broken and we need to be fixed.
We need to face our gun problem—and yes, it is a gun problem. It is other things too; a mental health problem and a violence problem, but make no mistake it is predominately a gun problem.
We need to do something with the greatest of urgency and without delay.
We need to make sure more children come home.
Note: In two the two weeks since this post’s publication, there have already been numerous school shootings. I wonder how many children, fathers, wives, and brothers will not come home in the days that follow.