Today marks five weeks since the Stoneman-Douglas shooting.  It still makes me quiver inside, especially when I recall that day.  I also still feel remorse for those families that lost their children.  I haven’t dreamt much about it and really only one time in the last week.  There are still events that continue to plague the students, as my daughter had to experience two days ago.

First, there was Nik Cruz’ brother Zachary Cruz, who ended up on campus on Monday evening.  You can look it up and read about it as I won’t go into detail.  Somehow, he made it on campus after being told three times not to go near it.  He was immediately arrested, a bomb sweep was performed to make sure Cruz did not leave anything behind as a measure of protocol.

The next day, Tuesday morning, my daughter was having a bad anxiety attack at school because she was told there was a bomb threat.  I had to let her know that was false and it was only a bomb sweep to make sure there was nothing done by Zach Cruz while on campus which had been performed Monday evening.  Then, two students were arrested for bringing a knife to school and one was baker acted.

She began to panic and her mother had to pick her up from school Tuesday.  She was doing much better as of today, but was still having a tough time as of yesterday.  So naturally we allowed her to stay home the rest of the week with next week being spring break.

I called her last night and we spoke.  I gave her the most fatherly advice I knew how:

“I know this can’t be easy.  But the children that were arrested were done so immediately and any reason or excuse was not accepted for them having knives.  I don’t believe they were bringing knives to intentionally cause harm or inflict damage to other children.  Still, there is no reason or excuse and they were properly handled by the authorities.  As for Zachary Cruz, I can’t say how he entered campus, but he did so freely and was apprehended.  They did a bomb sweep for security purposes and to follow protocol.  There was no bomb threat but when they found him, he had only the clothes on his back and a skateboard with him.”

“That makes me feel a little better,” she said.

“Look, your school is under a microscope right now.  Anything that occurs there is going to be amplified one-hundred fold.  It’ll look much bigger than it seems because that is the way it will be portrayed by everyone.  I can only tell you this:  You have to continue to move forward.  There is an equal amount of fear you can have by driving in a car, going to a mall or grocery store, or going off to college.  People carry knives.  People have guns. I can only hope and pray that you are vigilant of your surroundings.  You need to pay attention, but you should not live your life in fear.  I pray everyday that you remain safe and you must do the same.  I’d like to say it’ll be OK.  But hope is all I can really do that it does remain OK and that you are always fine.  If anything, learn from this.  I can’t tell you not to be afraid.  But should you have fear, do not let it keep you from moving forward.  Share with and teach others.  And remember that you have only seven weeks left after you return from spring break.  You’ll have prom, then finals, then graduation and a new chapter begins.  Keep that in mind if/when you worry.  And if need be, mommy and I will be there for you.”

That was the best I had for her.  I can’t sugar coat anything because I don’t believe in it.  Truth is hard to swallow, but as long as truth contains some semblance of faith and hope and it isn’t all just hard truth, then there should be light – in her heart and in her eyes.

I continue to pray for those families.  I love what Florida has done to enact knew legislation concerning the several issues that we have dealt with.  And the student movement has been remarkable.

My belief?  This is more than just a gun issue.  I have said that from the beginning and now there has been confirmation and here’s how…

There have been several bombings going on in Austin, Texas.  Two people lost their lives.  Several have been injured.  Seven bombs went off, including the one that killed the serial bomber, Mark Conditt.  He was 23 years-old, only four years older than Nik Cruz.  He didn’t have much of a social media presence, other than a few blogs he wrote on topics he discussed…and that was back in 2012.  As of now, there is no motive.  He was home schooled, graduated, and was attending a community college.  He was in computer repair and a purchasing agent.

Mental health issues are rampant.  Until more comes out about this case, we will not know why he did these acts or what other knowledge there is of his mental health.  Nik Cruz and his brother have had several very well documented acts of violence and disturbances.  However, there was no knowledge of this young man having any issues…as of yet.  While Cruz may have been prevented, we just don’t know who is going to cause damage…or when or where.  He used bombs, not a gun.  This is still tragic because people were killed and injured.

We need to go back to giving a shit about people.  We need to go back to being nosy-neighbors.  We need to spend more time with our kids and less time with computers and technology.  We need to teach manners and instill a taste of fear in our children to elicit their respect to us as adults.  Not abuse.  We need kids to get involved with each other and learn to leave no one out.

Fixing what I see many are calling our “broken society” is not a difficult task.  Our society is not broken, it just needs to be readjusted.  This is not one person’s problem.  The President didn’t do this to us.  Politicians didn’t do this to us.  Religious groups didn’t do this to us.  A particular race didn’t do this to us.

WE DID! Technology has made us weaker.  We care less.  We act less.  We don’t instill the values that were once taught.  We allow mediocrity.  We are accepting of average work.  I read an article the other day by a “respectable news source” (if there is such a thing anymore) and I was appalled by the grammatical errors and misspelling.  I found five in just the first four paragraphs and stopped reading because it was written by the editor of the news source.  All this technology and they couldn’t get spellcheck right.

When my mother was involved in politics several years ago, we went door-to-door promoting the candidate she supported.  We passed out fliers.  We spoke to homes.  We shook hands.  And my brother and I went along for the ride.  I’m not saying that in support of the politics; I’m saying that in support of our involvement.  We knew what was going on.  We were learning.  We weren’t glued to a computer or a video game.  We weren’t stuck on our phones or laptops or iPads lost in a screen.  We were involved.  If we did play video games, we did so for about an hour and then we were back outside, riding bikes, playing make-believe, creating fake scenarios, using our imaginations.

I don’t think we are broken.  But we are certainly way off track.  We just have to re-route the track and find our way back to the course.  We have to do so as community, as a family of Americans.  We have to revive what was been lost like having dinner together with our families without TV, talking and having conversations, knowing what’s going on in our children’s lives and in their minds, involved in their school and with their schoolwork.  We need to be more diligent with their functions, as children learning to grow.  We have to be impressionable by sharing stories and knowledge and experience, but also allowing them to make decisions so they can grow.

I don’t have all the answers.  But I will never stray away from offering solutions I believe may work.

For now, hope is all I can really do that it will once again – someday – be OK.

Be Positive.  Be Passionate.  Be Proud.  #msdstrong




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