February 23, 2018
Nothing we do will ever bring back the 17 bright lights of Parkland. Children, coaches, lifetimes of promise -- all lost, too soon. As parents, we've watched moms and dads in communities all across America experience an agony we can't fathom. We've cried at the photos of smiling teenagers who will never have another school picture. And we wonder -- when will we make it stop, or at least lessen?
The faceless, nameless crisis that leads people to murder innocent people -- is there a cure? More Americans than ever are desperately seeking one. "What's gone wrong with our culture that produces such atrocities?" Peggy Noonan asked before answering her own question. "It's a very long list." In a country so numb to violence, what happened in Florida feels different. Gun control is back on the table, but so is the longing for something deeper.
"It is not a secret that we have some gun issues that need to be addressed," said Florida Rep. Kimberly Daniels, a Democrat, "but the real thing that needs to be addressed are the issues of the heart." Following nearby Arkansas, she is sponsoring a bill to bring the conversation back to what matters: God. This week, her legislation to require "In God We Trust" in every school shows how quickly the environment is changing. By 97-10, state leaders agreed, it's time to address the real problem. Daniels was just as heartbroken as any American when she heard the news of the school shooting. But, she believes God spoke to her and said, "Do not politicize what has happened in Florida, and do not make this a thing of division." So, she worked on a different solution -- reminding people to do good. "God is not a Republican or a Democrat. He is not black or white. He is the light and our schools need light in them like never before."
What's wrong, Noonan writes, deep down we all know.
"The family blew up -- divorce, unwed childbearing. Fatherless sons. Fatherless daughters, too. Poor children with no one to love them. The internet flourished. Porn proliferated. Drugs, legal and illegal. Violent videogames, in which nameless people are eliminated and spattered all over the screen... The abortion regime settled in, with its fierce, endless yet somehow casual talk about the right to end a life... So much change, so much of it un-gentle. Throughout, was anyone looking to children and what they need?"
The questions after Parkland are the same ones we've had since Columbine. But now is the time for honesty. We can harden the targets, but we need to soften hearts too. Nothing we do will matter if we don't acknowledge that America has lost its way – that we've reject the creator, and creation has turned on itself. Our children are our future, and they're far too valuable to keep drawing political lines and standing on one side or the other. If we want to talk about access to guns, we've got to talk about access to God. And it's not happening in our schools today.
We need Americans from both sides of the aisle who are willing to look for real solutions that fill the cracks in our families and our hearts. I'm willing. "It starts," Ken Blackwell told me yesterday on "Washington Watch, "with how we value life. I know there are a lot of intellectuals on the political Left who don't see the connection, but when you start to destroy innocent human life because of unwantedness, you in fact begin to cheapen the value of life. As a consequence, it's been manifested in our culture, and it makes it easier for people to become insensitive to the loss of innocent life... As we've all said for decades, you can't run God and faith out of the public square and not expect to have these sort of consequences."
Noonan, who sees the world crumbling all around us, thinks our kids are watching.
"I'll tell you what I think a teenager absorbs about [abortion], unconsciously, in America. He sees a headline online, he passes a television in an airport, he hears the quick story and he thinks: 'If the baby we don't let live is unimportant, then I guess I am unimportant. And you're unimportant too.' They don't even know they're breathing that in. But it's there, in the atmosphere, and they're breathing it in. And it doesn't make you healthier."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.