I got the first tweet, I suppose, as soon as the news was made public -- speaking now, of course, of the horrific school shooting in Connecticut last Friday. I was giving a final exam to my own students who were quite eager to demonstrate how much they had learned about the history of our great nation, so I turned off my phone and computer and resisted the urge to sit and become engulfed in the wall-to-wall news coverage that has become commonplace when such events occur.
At lunch, I learned something of the ever-increasing death toll and was even more determined to avoid immersing myself in the tragedy that was playing out in New England. I had a book signing after school and a basketball game to attend that night. My emotions were already fragile and I needed to keep them under control as much as possible.
When I finally walked in my back door, at about 11 Friday night, I sat down in my recliner and turned on the television news and took it all in. I cried myself to sleep sometime after midnight.
Schools are supposed to be safe havens, especially for little bitty children. Schools are supposed to be places that children can find acceptance and encouragement. Schools are supposed to be places that children go to learn and be inspired and to have their spirits lifted and minds stimulated. Schools are never supposed to be where children go to die.
We've had four days of it now. We've heard the sordid story about how a 20-year-old killed his mother and then showed up at a nearby elementary school with his mother's guns and enough ammunition to kill everybody in the building. We have read the names and seen the faces of the tiny little angels -- and the adults -- that were massacred in a matter of minutes on a morning in which Christmas vacation, not death and despair, should have been on those people's minds.
We've heard the speculation as to the motive and heard all sorts of information about the killer and we've witnessed a town, a state and a country, once again, mourning the mass loss of innocent lives. We've heard so-called "experts" come forward and explain how the murderer was also a victim, somehow failed by the state or by society or all of the above.
We've heard the gun control lobby start demanding new legislation and we've heard zealots simplistically insist that "this wouldn't have happened if we hadn't taken God out of the schools." We've heard all the same things we have heard so many, many times since Columbine.
And we all know that, except for the grace of God, the same thing could happen in our community at any time. A similar thing has happened in our community, as many of us all too well remember.
We have a problem in this nation. It is not a political problem. It is not a gun control problem. It is not a mental health problem. It is a societal problem. We are embroiled in an ongoing war between good and evil in society and evil is winning. Winning? Hell, good has become so beaten and battered by tolerance and political correctness that good is barely putting up a fight anymore.
We are, at this very moment, presiding over the downfall of civilization as we know it. There is very little left of the moral and decent and genteel society into which my generation was born. Our young people are exposed to so much filth and sex and violence and the foulest of language -- in movies, on television, in music and in the halls of their schools -- that nothing, and I mean nothing, seems shocking to them anymore. They spend their days with headphones in their ears listening to who knows what. A majority of them are being raised by single or divorced parents or in blended families, and we have no concept of what a traditional family is supposed to look like -- and we are being told that all of the above is OK and that any family unit is just as acceptable as any other.
We are raising a nation of Biblically illiterate children who know more about morally bankrupt celebrities than they do about God and are more familiar with Honey Boo Boo than with Jesus Christ. They have never heard of or seen the Ten Commandments and believe that everything everyone wants to do is A-OK. Live and let live -- or live and let die, whatever the case may be.
John Wesley once said, "What one generation tolerates the next will embrace." Think back to the 1960s and the 1970s and the things we began to tolerate as a nation. Look at the things we have come to embrace. Look at what happened in Newtown, Conn., last Friday and tell me how there is no connection between my rant and the events that took place and then go put your head back in the sand and wait for the next incident.
Meanwhile, may the people of Newtown, Conn., somehow experience some degree of peace during this season that is supposed to be about peace.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.