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Dorothy Burton is a conference and keynote speaker; and, workshop leader for various organizations across the country. As a writer and speaker, Dorothy speaks and writes about public servant leadership, American culture, politics and the role of faith in the public square. She uses her gift of communication, depth of study in theology and vast experiences in public service to help leaders learn and discover more effective ways to lead, communicate, work and serve together for the common good of their team, organization and the diverse communities they serve.
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Photo courtesy of Cox Media Group National Content Desk: WFTV9 ABC Santa Fe School Shooting
It all began with an innocent Facebook post and question I posted on my Facebook page:
"I have a question. Since SMU has asked their faculty to ask questions of ethnic minorities they've always wanted to ask but were afraid to, I'm going to play SMU question and answer. My question is this. Why are young white males so angry? All these school shootings? White males. Columbine? Young white males. Sandy Hook? Young white male. The Charleston church massacre? Young white male. Sutherland Springs church massacre? White male. Aurora movie theater? Young white male. Las Vegas? White male. Santa Fe? White male. Parkland? White male. What are white males so angry about that they are committing all these mass murders in schools and churches? Yeah, I'm sure I will hear about Chicago and black-on-black crime. Those are one-on-one urban violence. But as far as I know these mass shootings of innocent church people and school children are angry young white males. And in the case of Las Vegas, just an angry old white man. I'm just asking what many of us talk about privately. What are y'all so angry about? Try being a black male for a minute. And I'm not being funny. But these are the kinds of issues that burn beneath the surface and cause so much outward hostility. I applaud SMU for what they're trying to do. But this is the white elephant (no pun intended) in every school or church massacre that nobody wants to talk about."
I was not prepared for the onslaught of responses!
Some angry, others well-thought through. While others predictably pointed fingers at Democrats, others blamed gun enthusiasts.
I believe bureaucrats don't have the answers and I personally do not believe there is the political will among the political establishment to make any substantive changes. Even more, to ask the tough and sometimes uncomfortable questions that need to be asked.
As a member of the NRA I personally believe in protecting the 2nd Amendment, but not blindly so. It may have less to do with the 2nd Amendment and more to do with federal and state governments providing funding to help local school districts combat this growing and insidious evil.
But simply throwing money at social problems is rarely the answer. We have to as leaders, be mature enough and have courage enough to have difficult and uncomfortable conversations.
Can we just lay all the cards on the table and stop playing political football with people's lives?
In my opinion no law, unless it is one of the ten handed down from God to Moses, is beyond the scope of tweaking if it no longer adequately covers and serves the purposes and safety of the American public; or, adequately addresses real-time issues.
None of us have all the answers, but together there is not much determined Americans can't do if we have the will and mind to do it.
The same old tired politically driven platitudes, "listening tours" and political posturing have gotten us nowhere and will get us nowhere.
As committed of a Christian I am, even I am tired of politicians sending their "thoughts and prayers."
How about sending some leadership? Some solutions?
This series of blogs give voice to the thoughts of ordinary citizens like you, like me, without filters. I asked permission to reprint their comments from my Facebook page and this is the first in a four-part series.
Politicians need to hear beyond their "base" and hand-picked panels and really listen to what people are saying.
This first guest blog post, as posted to my Facebook page, is written by Lisa Prude Sams.
By Guest Blogger
Lisa Prude Sams
I "self-identify" as a white woman. I am a Christ follower, politically, fiscally and socially conservative.
I have a background/education as a Social Worker with adolescents, Minister to Women, and secular nonprofit leadership.
I am NOT a gun person, and I don't know enough about current gun laws or background checks to comment other than to say - if better, deeper, more extensive checks will help, then yes, do it!
And if restricting access to certain types of guns will help, I'm all in.
I believe there is more to this than gun control. I believe that there are several root causes to this horror of young white males taking weapons to schools and churches, or anywhere else and killing their peers or strangers en masse.
Overall, it's a sin problem - which is the issue in each of my premises - it's ALL a sin problem. But, I want to break it down. As I use the pronoun "we", I mean "we, the white people."
It's a greed problem.
This is not a new phenomenon as some commentators try to portray.
For thousands of years, the group "in power" has devised ways to extinguish or subdue the non powerful - especially when the in-power feels threatened.
The Old Testament and secular history books are full of stories of young men seeking dominance.
The sinful desire to have superiority over God and to demonstrate control over their part of the world goes back to Cain and Abel (caveat: granted, they were not "white" as we understand the term today, however, it was a young man seeking dominance over the other, both of the same race).
In America, young white males have asserted dominance over pretty much everyone at one time or another: women, children, people of color, those less educated, etc.
There is, sadly, still a hierarchy and those at the perceived top do everything they can to stay at the top.
It's a "drive-thru" problem.
I believe that since 1973 we have taught our children that they are disposable.
The moment abortion was fully legalized (outside the health of the mother or child or in cases of rape or incest) instead of being the exception, it became commonplace. In too many instances, it became a form of birth control.
The idea that having a child would prove embarrassing, inconvenient, or ill-advised, "so abort", gained a foothold in our society (non church-going as well as church-going). When we can dispose of a pregnancy in an afternoon, we can just as easily ignore the child once it arrives: day care, so-called latchkey children, and now we can just plop them down with a device and they can entertain themselves.
We drive through for food, coffee and even order groceries online because we are too busy to do it ourselves.
We've become too busy to make a pot of coffee and too busy to sit down and listen to our kids.
It's a "lack of good male role models" problem.
We (white people, especially us "church-going" white people) love to point to the problem of fatherless households in the "poor sections of town," but forget that the divorce rate of church-going whites is the same as non church-going whites. And, there are as many white teens getting pregnant and parenting without the father of the baby playing an active role.
After a divorce is final, moms typically have the bulk of responsibility for raising the children. And they usually have to either take on more work responsibility or go to work, which further cuts into the quantity and quality of parent-child time.
I am NOT saying that single moms aren't doing enough. I'm saying the opposite. They are overwhelmed and tired and carry the weight of the world. And if they have sons, they need a strong male role model. An in-your-face, on the front lines, role model. Not an every-other-weekend role model. Not a far away, unreachable, fictional movie/tv, sports role model.
I don't like when people complain or accuse without offering solutions, so what can we do?
- We tell Americans, "If you see something, say something." From most of the reporting after these mass shooting by young white males, it comes to light that someone DID say something, but nothing happened. If it's a legal issue, let's fix it. If it's a source issue, seek a second source for confirmation. Let's respond quickly and decisively when someone says, "John Doe is posting scary stuff online", or "John Doe threatened Jack," or "John Doe is not acting like himself lately." Why is this so difficult to accomplish?
- Teach the importance of respecting all people, all viewpoints, all ideas. It takes time, effort and accountability.
- In families, neighborhoods, friendships, we must offer tangible help to single parents. Two parent families can partner with a single parent family and triple team the kids!
- At schools, we must partner with teachers, staff, school resource officers and volunteers to get to know EVERY student. Join, or support, the PTA. Did you know that in many school districts, you don't have to be a parent to join the PTA? You just have to be willing. And pass the background check.
- In churches, we must do better at partnering teenagers with mentors. Research consistently supports the idea that teenagers need at least two adults in their lives, other than their parents, to whom they can turn for advice, encouragement and guidance. If you have some extra time, volunteer in the children's or youth ministries. Get to know the kids and their parents. Be available.
- At home, no closed doors. No computers or phones or tablets except in the common areas of the house. No privacy settings on your kids' social media. Read EVERYTHING. Track EVERYTHING. It's not an invasion, it's protection. Your house, your rules. And, honestly, parents are as bad as kids. We've got an escalating pornography addiction problem in America because it's easy to access and easy to keep secret. When the adults in the house have secrets, they avoid confronting their kids' secrets. Adults need to deal with our addiction to our phones, too. It breaks my heart to see families at restaurants and each person at the table is on a phone or tablet. There are so many conversations that Americans need to be having as families, as friends, as churches, as communities/states, and as a nation.
But, as most things do, it takes courage to ask the hard questions and to listen to the responses.
With prayer, conversation, conviction, and willingness, we (all of us) can make changes.
Published on Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 5:46 PM CDT