I am a teacher, and like the vast majority of teachers, I love my work. By this, I do not mean I love the curriculum and bells; I mean I love my students and would do anything necessary to protect them.
Maybe this is why I can’t seem to break away from the news concerning the school shooting in Connecticut. In the midst of the horror unfolding, I’m hoping to hear the beginnings of a solution. Is it in stronger gun control laws? Psychological testing and treatment? What about arming teachers so they can better defend their students?
All these ideas, though well-intentioned, don’t seem realistic or capable of preventing future violence at schools. Even if we control guns, people with evil intentions will find a way to get a gun. Mental health testing is beyond the scope of management. How can we test everyone? Would we only test people wanting to buy guns? As this latest shooting shows, people can perpetrate their crimes without purchasing a single gun. Arming teachers (trust me on this) would only lend more risk to volatile situations that occur at schools in much higher frequency than shootings.
Still, there’s another idea I’ve encountered that suggests this tragedy is the result of taking God out of school, and if we’ll just allow him back in things will be as they should be. I have to admit, this is the one I find most perplexing.
When asked if God has left our schools, the general response seems to be yes, he has. Yet, if we consider the implication of this belief, we might decide we don’t want to own it. Are we saying that almighty God serves under the power of human boundaries? He can’t be in schools because humans say so? I doubt any of us intend that to be the message; although, that is what this belief communicates. It also suggests, in this case, that God is more than willing to punish young children, even allow their deaths, to gain access to an institution. That, too, is something very few would want to imply about God.
So, has God left our schools? I say no and point to this very tragedy to support my belief. As sickened as I am over this horrific event, I find myself incredibly uplifted when I hear about the educators who sacrificed their lives for their students. Hearing the stories of their self-sacrifice, I am left amazed and incredibly inspired. Their testimony is like balm to me, even to our communal hurt.
Actually, the more I ponder this side of the story, the more I realize that the actions of these teachers undeniably give pause to the idea that God has abandoned the school. After all, the last testimony of these educators is overflowing with the quintessential love Jesus speaks of when he says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” I ask, can there be any greater testimony to the presence, power, and love of God – yes, in our schools?
If this terroristic attack on such beautiful innocence cannot ban God and his love from a school, then how can we suggest that men’s pens striking signatures on government documents can accomplish such a feat? No – no matter the actions of men – our God cannot be kicked out of anywhere.