It’s been a few days since the Sandy Hook massacre of 20 kids and their teachers. I still can’t get a grip on how this could happen to such beautiful children. I also can’t understand how Adam Lanza decided to do such a horrific crime to his mom and to those innocent kids. In a few more days, the rest of the world will move on. But I hope that we would not let this incident fade without holding on to its lesson tightly and imparting it to our kids. Politicians are talking about gun control. Personalities are blaming media and violent video games. But there are those who really could make a difference to prevent another massacre like this in the future: the parents.
We not only need to impose, as a society, stricter controls on guns or scold violent movies and video games. These are just external things that would restrain what is happening internally. Something has got to change from the inside. For the adults who see human life as objects they could dispose of anytime, maybe its too late. But for our kids, there’s still time. The first fifteen years of life I think are the most important for any human. This is where we form habits and mind processes that will define us. It’s a time where we absorb all things we see and hear with little or maybe even no regulation. Everything enters one’s mind, a library of information and ideals, morals and principles. This information comes not only from parents but from schools, media, friends, internet and countless other sources— both good and evil. To help children sort through this influx, it takes gatekeepers. These gatekeepers are us, the parents.
There are parents who choose not to take on this responsibility. Perhaps they fear they are ‘dominating a child’ or ‘stifling his or her freedom of choice’. Some will allow their kids to follow the most wicked things they see in their environment and then find it amusing. Some perhaps do not want to correct the twisted views of the world on their children to ‘toughen them up’. And well, I guess, its a matter of choice how you would raise your child.
I think, above all, despite any differing parenting styles, parents need to teach their children the value of life. We need to correct the notion that valuing life and everything that it represents makes one weak. We need to begin emphasizing to our kids that being a good person doesn’t make an individual uncool. We have to let them know that being violent is the easy part; we all come to earth perfectly capable of greed, jealousy and anger without anyone teaching us. (Don’t believe this? Try putting one attractive toy between three young kids who don’t know each other in a neutral room. A conflict is bound to happen sooner or later).
We need to teach kids that choosing to be good is a mark of strength; that choosing to forgive, love and to get along is higher than fighting, hating and harming; that there will also be many times in their lives that they will need to forgive even themselves; that they need to play with the cards that they’re dealt with; that not everything they hear and see is good and worth following. Why? Because as they grow up, they will be bombarded by views opposite to this. As they grow old, the urge to let go of these things will be intense and your role as gatekeeper and teacher will fade over the years. As the time flies by, they will find out that you don’t know everything. They will become more and more dependent on others via media and the internet to get knowledge and opinions. And we parents can only hope that our kids would retain the good things we’ve taught them while they were younger.
I’m not saying that we should not teach our kids self-defense or not to make a stand about things they believe to be right. I’m not saying that we teach them to be spineless. No. What I’m saying is that we need to teach them to walk on higher ground. Teach them to be noble and good. Let’s teach them to respect every human life, whether rich or poor, young or old, whether on TV or video games or in real life. Let’s give them a very clear distinction between real life and everything else. Let them know clearly that every single human life is a treasure that need to be guarded. This teaching, I believe, is of greater importance than mathematics and physics. And teaching your kid to be a good person, respectful of life and human rights, could put him in a place a notch higher than the other kids out there.
I don’t know how you’ll do it. There are many ways, I imagine. For me and my wife, we find that teaching our kids about God and the Bible and exposing them to church does the job. As they grow up, we aim to expose them not just to the best things the world has to give but also to missions. We want to teach them that they’re blessed so they can be a blessing to other people. We aim to teach them that every human being is important to God, whether rich or poor, healthy or sick, public figure or not; that judgement and revenge are best left in His hands.
It is my hope that as we do this, there would be a better world long after we’re gone. It won’t be a perfect and murder-free world, of course not. But I’m praying that our kids and yours will be there to heal and help those who will be hurting.