Remember last week when Rebecca was a new graduate? When all the world stretched out in front of her. She was not the only child at graduation, of course. The arena was full of young men and young women that also reached a big milestone. There were families cheering them on. Families proud of their children’s achievements.
One of those graduates was Alante Vallejo. Rebecca didn’t know him or share any classes. The high school is huge. Unlike the high school I attended where I had been in classes with the same kids since elementary school or middle school–it is easy to not know everyone in the graduating class. But in any case, as the processional in to the arena went by, I had a 50/50 chance of seeing this young man. I was too busy scanning for my daughter, of course, to say for sure.
A friend has spoken about this young man–and he sounds like a good kid.
But, instead of working a summer job or planning his future, his parents are planning his funeral. In an all too common story, the boy was shot, murdered, on Friday, not too far from the borders between Evanston and Chicago.
It is just one story. It isn’t even the story that occurred at a park where a 17 year old was shot in Evanston on Saturday (miraculously despite face and neck hits–he was still alive last time the paper reported on the story). Neither of these things happened in the late hours when you think your kids should be safe at home in bed. Neither happened to kids who you can list a whole list of reasons why. Of course, I am of the belief that no child should be murdered for any reason.
I know these things happen every day. I HATE that they happen every day. I don’t think the discussion should be guns. I don’t think it can all be fixed by “gang task forces” or calling in the National Guard. I don’t think it can be fixed by gun control laws. I think society needs to change. I think mental illness needs to be addressed seriously. I think that the economy needs a serious retooling. I think that people need to have an urgent societal moral compass saying “Thou shalt not kill.” The media needs to stop quoting the folks saying “concealed carry is the answer” or “tougher gun laws are the answer.” The answer is in not giving the 15 minutes of fame to killers. The answer is good health care, mental health care, morality taught in the home, in the schools, in camp, in religious institutions, in books, media. Celebration of good choices. Making kids work for the trophy.
In the meantime, I will think of those killed locally, nationally, globally. I will pray for their families. I will pray for their friends. I will pray for my own family and friends too.
This all has to stop.