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A Call for National Prayer

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Once again this nation has received a tragic wake-up call. This time the death toll was less but the psychological effects are cumulative and devastating to all of us. As an educator, my heart breaks once more with the news.

I teach at the community college level and it is hard for me to imagine the chaos and senselessness of it all. Yet, the reality is that we must understand that something is terribly wrong. February celebrates the contributions of many great individuals, among them our forefathers. I wonder what they would think about such dysfunction among our young people. February is the month we celebrate love, friendship, and fraternity. I kept thinking of the children that were exposed to this type of news item flashing on their television sets. What is going through their minds? If you are a parent, you must talk to your children to help them cope.

Some people think of these violent acts as just random. This may be true. But, I believe that one shooting spree incident is one too many. College campuses and or school playgrounds should be safe havens. Our habitats of learning are slowly becoming prisons in the sense that security has to strengthen to protect the students and teachers inside. Teachers and students have to exhibit their ID cards before entering school buildings. Many urban schools have metal detectors greeting our adolescent children in the mornings. No community is exempt from the fear of some kind of act of violence. We conduct lock downs perhaps more than fire drills. Do you remember when the probability of a disastrous fire was our greatest fear?

I pray for the souls of the victims and I hope that their respective families find strength and support through this tragedy. I also pray for that desperate young man that somehow missed seeing a solution to ease his pain and anger.  I pray that we find whatever it is that is needed to help us create more awareness about mental illness. As a nation we do not want to talk about it. We whisper when we know someone suffers some kind of mental anguish. We do not understand why it is that someone can be very quite, intelligent and relatively productive and can also wear the mask and become a brutal attacker or killer.

This is a call to prayer and also a call to action. We know some of the reasons why these individuals finally loose it and break down. We are aware how someone who experiences bullying, sexual harassment, child abuse, or something called emotional abandonment can resort to violence. Our young people are facing many challenges and have to cope with many stressors on a daily basis. We must not leave behind these students that are suffering and sad about their existence. We need to learn to identify their needs and to understand that each one is unique.

Let us pray as a nation for these victims and all others who loose their lives because of random acts of violence. We need to pray and we need to bring back the sanity.

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