“A Child Shall Lead Them”
The March for Our Lives
By Dr. G. Steve Kinnard
Let Justice Roll A Social Justice Blog
“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
—Amos 5:24, NRSV
Volume Two: “A Child Shall Lead Them”
I know the phrase “a child shall lead them” refers in prophecy to Jesus. However, I often think of this phrase when I see a child teaching an adult a lesson. Like when a child sat on the knee of Jesus and taught Jesus’ disciple a lesson about humility.
This past weekend this phrase could have been used to describe hundreds of thousands of children across the US who taught adults to stand up, step up, and speak up concerning the rise of gun violence in their schools. Students from across our nation are leading the discussion about gun legislation, and they will not be silenced.
On Valentines Day, 2018 (which also happened to be Ash Wednesday) there was a shooting in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida that claimed seventeen lives. I’m sure you also remember that back on December 14, 2012 there was a shooting in an elementary school in Newton, Connecticut that took twenty-seven lives.
The beginning of the modern era of school shootings began in 1999 at Columbine High School. Since 1999, The Washington Post estimates that at least 200 students have died from shootings at schools and over 170,000 students have experienced a school shooting on campus. Most of these are students who were not even born when the era of school shootings began in 1999.
Also, we must not forget the children who face gun violence daily on the urban streets of our nation. Children of color face gun violence in a disproportionate rate in the United States.
At this point the Psalmist would ask, “How long, O Lord? How long?”
On February 22nd, grieving parents and students met in a town hall style meeting with the two Florida state senators and a state representative to talk about the shooting and to discuss ways to prevent future shootings. I applaud the courage of the senators and the representative for attending the meeting. The president and state governor declined to attend.
Two of the three legislators said they supported a total ban of sale of assault weapons. When one senator was asked to renounce donations from gun lobbyists, he refused.
As you can imagine, the discussion was fierce and heated. Many tears were shed. People were angry. And, as is often the case, behind the anger was fear.
Students, parents, and school administrators marched on the state capitol building in Florida to demand changes in gun laws. Thousands of people raised their voices to say to state and federal legislators that something must be done.
Their voices were heard outside the state legislature. Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of the largest sporting goods retailers in the US, announced that it would stop selling military style weapons, and it was raising the age to be able to purchase firearms from 18 to 21.
On Saturday March 24th an estimated 850,000 students marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington to the Capitol building. They carried posters which read “ACT! FEAR has no PLACE our our schools!” and “Protect our Future.” These children have decided that if adults won’t listen to adults, then perhaps they will listen children. “A child shall lead them.”
What about our voice as Christians? What do we have to say about the plaque of school shootings in the United States?
At this time, while so many are mourning and while so many are talking about gun legislation in the US, let’s ask, “How do we respond?”
First, with prayer and fasting. I appreciate my friend Tony Fernandez who leads the church in Broward County for calling the disciples there to fast one meal a day for seventeen days. That’s one meal a day for each of the seventeen victims of the shooting. Prayer and fasting are always an appropriate response.
Let’s fast. And while we are fasting, let’s pray for our nation and all the nations of the world to find lasting solutions to gun violence.
Second, with love. People are angry. That’s understandable. But we have to make sure that our anger doesn’t bleed over into hatred, bile, and vitriol. Hate begets hate. Only love can conquer hate.
Third, humility. No one has all “the” answers. I have my opinions about what should happen at this moment with gun legislation. But I also know that I’ve never participated in drafting a bill to congress, debating a bill in congress, or passing a bill in congress. I have opinions, but I don’t have “the” answers.
It does seem that some common sense proposals ought to rule the day. The purchasing age for firearms ought to be raised from 18 to 21. Stocks that enable semi-automatic weapons to fire like automatic weapons ought to be outlawed. The sale of military style weapons ought to be outlawed. And, legislatures ought not received contributions from the NRA.
Our children are asking us adults to consider these changes.
Will these actions stop all the violence? I don’t think so. We also need to invest in proper evaluation and treatment of people with mental health problems. We need to provide more and better trained security at our schools.
And, more than anything else, we need Jesus. “A child shall lead them.” The ultimate answer to all violence in the world is the love of Jesus.
So, let’s pray and fast, let’s love, and let’s stay humble. These are always appropriate responses to any situation. And let’s follow Jesus.
And, until next time, “Let Justice Roll.”
Dr. G. Steve Kinnard, March 26, 2018