I WANT TO BE A PROFESSIONAL SCHOOL SHOOTER.
Those were the words of Nikolas Cruz, a ticking time bomb who let the world know what he was going to do on YouTube, words which everybody including law enforcement ignored. Because the Cruz promise-threat was not taken seriously, 17 beautiful human beings are dead and more than a dozen have been wounded.
The savage slaughter happened in Parkland, Florida, near the town of Fort Lauderdale at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, one of the very best in the State of Florida and perhaps the entire US of A. This tragic event happened on Valentine’s Day, a day where all of Florida and in fact our entire country celebrated LOVE. But in Parkland, there was nothing but evil. Cupid’s Arrow had been replaced by Satan’s. 17 beautiful young children died but this killer, this mass killer lived. Cruz is in jail now and will be for the rest of his life, however long that is.
A very dear friend of mine who lives in Parkland, Florida sent his three children to that very school. In fact, his youngest daughter graduated from the Parkland High School last year. In her senior year, in 2017, she attended the very class where her classmates were slaughtered. My friend and his daughter are Jewish and ironically, the class of students where the killings took place was centered upon an historical approach to the HOLOCAUST. Some thought that the Cruz motivation might have been anti-Semitic. But that will probably never be known. All that really matters is that 17 innocent, life-loving teenagers were slaughtered, gunned down by this savage man, himself a teenager. One year earlier, an Emily Rothenberg would have been dead along with the others.
But one who was murdered was Meadow Jade Pollack, 18 years of age, a senior who had looked forward so much to attending college this fall at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. Meadow Pollack was a friend, a close one of Emily Rothenberg and her parents the Pollacks were very close friends of my friends the Rothenbergs. I saw Mark Rothenberg the morning after the shootings. He had been awake for more than 30 hours straight, was emotionally distraught, tearful, even sobbing for ahead of him and the Pollacks was a bitter funeral the very next day and then the beginning of a healing process which might never end. The Pollacks, surrounded by the love of the Rothenbergs had to bury Meadow, the youngest of 10 grandchildren, the precious little girl whom they called PRINCESS. Life for them would never be the same.
Meadow’s oldest brother was devastated. “I always looked out for her,” he said. “I wanted to be the older, protective brother my whole life, and I feel like I failed.” He went onto say:
“So all I can do is hope that he gets what he deserves.”
The mass killer Nikolas Cruz was a troubled teenager. Cruz himself attended this very school, and he was expelled from the school after threatening other students including his former girlfriend. He threatened classmates, even teachers before his expulsion. He often posted about guns, and killing animals on Instagram. Anyone who knew him was afraid of him. Local law enforcement authorities knew about Cruz, his violent tendencies and so did the FBI. But nothing was done, nothing. Cruz was even allowed to purchase an AR-15 rifle and large amounts of ammunition without question. He practiced loading and unloading his rifle with ammunition. He was ready for the slaughter, ready to be that professional school shooter which apparently no one saw coming.
These young Parkland high school teenagers, so skilled in digital and social media, had the presence of mind to text their parents as the slaughter was occurring. One teenager, facing death texted the following:
“If I don’t make it, I love you.”
What a heart-wrenching message for a parent to receive on Valentine’s Day no less. And another texted:
“We’re in a real Code Red, Dad. Get me ASAP. It’s not a drill.”
That, perhaps seconds before he died.
And another student said goodbye to her parents “just in case”:
“If I don’t make it, I love you and appreciate everything you did for me.”
How interesting and wonderful it is that even in the face of death, some of the final thoughts of these brave and innocent teenagers was all about:
Three of the 17 who died were teachers at the school. They died heroes trying to save the students they taught and loved. One was a coach by the name of Aaron Feis who, the Broward County Sherriff’s Department said “died protecting others.” Another was geography teacher Scott Beigel. He took the assassin’s bullet meant for the students as he pushed the last student inside his classroom and locked the door. The third was athletic director and wrestling coach Chris Hixon, the kind of coach his students said who would give his life for his students. He did just that. Heroes all, those three never to be forgotten for the lives they saved.
And then there was heroic teacher Shanthi Viswanathan, lovingly known as MRS. V, teacher of algebra at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. This brave woman ordered students to the floor in a corner of her classroom, then put paper over the doors windows so no one could see inside, including and especially the shooter. This brave woman saved the lives of any number of these dear children. God bless her.
That very day, the old debate began. Guns, said the radical left, all of them should be banned. And of course, the Second Amendment repealed and done away with. There should be no right to bear arms whether for recreation or protection. But, if not, at the very least, the ownership of guns should be aggressively controlled including the right to own them and to qualify for such ownership. Anyone, they say, with a criminal past, incidents with the law and especially those who may be mentally or emotionally disturbed should not be allowed to purchase guns. They go onto say, these critics that assault weapons, like AK-47 automatic rifles and larger and more dangerous weapons should be outlawed and never sold. And there are many who agree.
And the debate goes on. There are plaintiff calls to Congress, to the Republican majorities, and even to President Trump to DO SOMETHING, anything to solve this problem and provide greater protection for the American people. One parent wrote President Trump the following:
“You said you would change things. You promised us last year that this American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”
YOUR WEEPING COUNTRY IS WAITING!
But Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House said that “now is not the time to have a discussion” on the Second Amendment issues. That in many ways is hard to comprehend, don’t you think? Now should be the time for rational, sensible, fair-minded discussions.
And yet another parent wrote the following about the Parkland slaughter:
“Are we really surprised that if you remove God, moral values and any sense of right and wrong from children that they grow up with none of those?”
And there are many who believe that this in fact is the real problem, the underlying causative problem. That America will pay now and forevermore because of its GOODBYE TO GOD.
And another parent wrote the following:
“One thing needs to be added. Students with mental health issues (like Nikolas Cruz) with violent pasts and social/emotional disorders must not be allowed in regular school settings. They need intensive counseling and treatment, which are not available in regular educational settings.”
How true. Teenagers with special needs need special attention. So much of America seems ill-equipped or unwilling to invest the time, effort and money in such treatment, such special education and counseling which these severely troubled teenagers need. Whether the absence of morality or treatment, this problem can not be solved unless both are involved. They think it is really not the guns, but the users of the guns.
And yet another parent wrote the following:
“The real problem is the gradual, systematic breakdown of human and family values and the erosion of morality.”
The family and modern America has broken down, says this writer. There is little of family whether love or discipline from mother and father and children pay a severe price for that. Indeed they do. Whether breakdown of family, morality, the absence of God, the inability to know right from wrong, in a world of anything goes, small wonder there comes a Nikolas Cruz and the Parkland slaughter.
What seems to be missing more than anything is the greatest force and energy in this world:
Real love. Love even beyond Valentine’s Day. A godly love, the love of God. That love implanted in the heart so that it no longer stands on its own, naturally inclined to deceit, wickedness, even evil, but a heart transformed by love, real love. Christians would boldly state that love is the love of God in the person of Jesus Christ. That for many is the only answer, the only real answer. Then comes the return of morality, the caring for real strong counseling and treatment, the restoration of family built upon love, providing the structure which the young people in our society so desperately need. All the laws in the world will never change the human heart nor make it better. Law enforcement can increase and even do its job better. But even that is not the answer. Unless the heart of mankind changes, the Parkland shootings will go on elsewhere. The Torah, the Old Testament gives us as one of the great Ten Commandments:
THOU SHALT NOT KILL
No matter the admonition, we do continue to kill for life can never have its true value without love, without morality, without compassion and concern for THE OTHER. What the world needs now, as the old song so well says, is love. But real love, a godly, changing love which makes the heart right and guns irrelevant. Guns are not the problem: the heart is. If not guns, there are knives, bombs, runaway cars and trucks, poisons and any other INSTRUMENTS OF KILLING. If a person wants to kill, that person will find a way. Unless, the heart is right.
My heart goes out to Parkland as I am sure yours does. To the families, the survivors of those 17 innocent and wonderful human beings who were slaughtered by Nikolas Cruz and to all those who were wounded. And to those who were scarred mentally and emotionally, perhaps for the rest of their lives. I think about them and pray for them as I am sure millions do. I pray for God’s healing mercies on all, and with a further prayer that these massacres will end, once and for all. The teenagers, knowing they would die, wanted their parents and families to know that they loved them. Love was on the mind and in the heart when death came. That love, that real love, is the only answer.
THE ONLY ANSWER!