Another school, another innocent set of lives randomly pushed off course, another river of blood runs red.
And another hail of criticisms rain down, accusations are flung wide, and strawmen are set up.
This morning in a town outside of Pittsburgh, a student went on a rampage, and now 20 young people are hospitalized, several in surgery, fighting for their lives. Others, lucky enough to escape the attack, sit paralyzed in shock, fear, as the predictable words that always accompany these scenes emerge, "I can't believe it happened here."
I have written countless times that Here is a moving target. That Here can become your town's name in the blink of an eye. That Here cares not how small or quaint your hamlet may be; how secure you sleep in your bed at night; how closeknit is your community.
Here, USA waits silently on the outskirts of every town, just waiting for tragedy to unfold, for its moment to rename.
This time the town receiving the fresh coat of paint on the "Welcome to" sign is Murrysville.
Details are still coming in, but what is known is that a 16 year old male sophomore unleashed an attack by knife on students in a hallway and classrooms, and before being subdued, at least 20 were stabbed in their torsos, backs, abdomens, and chests.
The "Why" component is unknown at this time. And while the attacker is alive - he was apprehended and handcuffed by a school resource officer - we may never fully know his motivation.
That, of course, leaves a void to be filled by the world of internet bystanders, gawking, rubber necking, pontificating.
NRA supporters are out in full force taking advantage of the weapon used in the attack. See? It wasn't a gun!
I don't care what the weapon was. It happened. Innocent people were attacked. Thankfully, doctors are hopeful that all will survive. So I guess I take that back. I do care what the weapon was, because if it had been a gun, many of these students would have not made it from the hallway floors, much less to an operating room.
The handwringing religious are out in full force using this attack to again preach about God being "forced" from the classroom. Give it a rest. God doesn't belong in a classroom, unless said classroom is in a church run school. And even then, being doused in the Holy Spirit daily does not insure that a student will never wield a knife, pull a trigger.
A public school is a secular, taxpayer funded institution. It is not a cathedral, temple, or mosque. Whatever religion in which you choose to immerse your offspring has no business beyond the door of your home, the threshhold of your place of prayer.
The notion of God, any god, does not insulate one from the realities of the world. And trying to shove God in and science out of the classroom isn't the answer. Mississippi schools actually teach their students that homosexuality is a sin - is illegal - and pound abstinence education into the kids, but guess what? Mississippi is ranked #2 in the nation in rate of teen pregnancy. #2. Their teen birthrate was 55 out of 1,000 in 2010. Ironically, Mississippi is also ranked highest in the nation in church attendance.
Seems to me that you can preach all you want, but reality isn't a churchgoer.
Reality is what we live, what we experience, what happens moment to moment.
Restrictions won't keep the guns or knives out of the hands that want them; church won't insure a young person doesn't lash out, and a lack of church doesn't insure a young person will. God can no more be a deterrent as a scapegoat.
Look, I went to church every Sunday as a teen. I was raised Catholic. I attended CCD. I had heaven, hell, guilt, and damnation preached at me regularly. I also turned in my V card as a teen because in that moment, the last thing on my mind was God, the church, my parents.
That doesn't mean all churchgoing teens ignore what they are taught. It just means that all teens, church going or not, are individuals. And as such have unique thoughts, feelings, emotions, challenges.
The teenage years are a struggle. They just are. Just like the line that opens A Tale of Two Cities, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
A struggle to fit in, to find your place, to figure out who you are. And a high school environment is the toughest place in which to do that because high schools are all about defining, labeling. Jock? Stoner? Geek? Slut? Stud? Manwhore? Brainiac?
Insecurity is rife in the hallways of our high schools. Peer pressure is real, and bullying is a daily nightmare for MANY students. Sadly, many students flounder just as badly outside the confines of the school as they do within. Parents who are disconnected, or worse, only want to keep the peace so they let the kid run the show, offering no boundaries, consequences, security.
I see it every single day. Teens who are so desperate for identity, any identity; acceptance, any acceptance; that they cling to whatever group offers them a feeling of inclusion. Drugs, sex, all manner of lawbreaking - it all happens.
And the reality? Those same kids do go to church. Their parents do preach at them. They are threatened with damnation and salvation.
But in the face of what their reality is, a teen naturally reaches for the tangible, not worrying about the invisible. Teens are notorious for not thinking beyond the moment in which they are taking the current breath so why do you think they would concern themselves with abstract concepts like heaven or hell when they can experience FUN - or what passes for it - right now?
Without support, consistency, constancy, a young adult will flounder. Maybe they will dodge the metaphorical bullet or blade, and not add an arrest to their record, a pregnancy to their lives, or an overdose to their systems, but without guidance, accountability, oversight, and restrictions, a teen will fall.
And that's when the metaphorical turns real. The bullets deadly, the knives turning the hallways red.
There is no background yet on the attacker from this morning. Two parents, one? Straight As or failing? Bully or bullied? Religious or not?
Will it matter? To those who will agenda-ize this horror, sure. Facts, traits, heresay will be used, bent, warped, distorted to fit their message. But in the end, knowing why won't make it not happen again.
And it will. Despite all manners of gods, availability of weapons, or hoping against hope. It will.
Because reality doesn't care about prayer or agendas or ideals.
Reality just happens. And Here just patiently waits to move in.