When a word comes to me and I decide to use it in my column, I look up the meaning of the word or words I hope will help tell the story. This past week I have watched the news sharing the horrible shooting and killing of some of our most loyal teachers and brightest students. I am so in awe of the students who have recounted their experiences throughout the ordeal. I have watched and listened as they pass on their thoughts of what happened and how they feel that our schools need a fresh look at what is continuing to happen over and over in various cities in our country. They have lived through the tragedy and are using their voices to make it clear that something needs to change and the time is now.

I have looked at Facebook and read some very serious thoughts on why we are continuing to face tragedy from weapons that kill our loved ones. Some say gun control is the answer. Others say if someone has the desire to destroy something or someone, they will find a way to do it. Others speak of the horrific drug usage as a major factor in the tragedies we face. There are no good answers to why someone decides to commit a crime. So far, the various laws have not prohibited a person from finding a weapon to do the crime. Our country has a major problem. A joint effort needs to begin discussion with results that make our country safer. Where have we traveled from to be in the place we are today?

The word I looked to is reflections. Here is what the dictionary says. To reflect is to cause as a result of one’s actions, character, etc. To manifest as a result of influence, imitation, etc. To give back an image or to be mirrored. To think; ponder… To bring blame, discredit, etc. Reflection is to meditate with careful consideration. Reflection is an imputation of blame or censure. As we reflect on the crime, drug usage, terrorism, school shootings, lack of respect for others and constant blame ( which is enough to go around) we, indeed , need to begin conversations and plans to end the downward spiral of unrest in America. We need to find ways to work together to end the senseless killing of our children. We need to include those who have experienced horrific situations who may have guidance in making changes that keep our schools less likely to be entered with the violence we have had many times over in the last few years. Americans are tired of the back and forth rhetoric of both sides of our Congress who do not want to agree on anything. We ask that partisan be put aside and for Congress to find ways to work together to find solutions that make America safer.

I have seen and witnessed some major changes in my years as a child, teen, mother and grandmother. I remember when I was a child, we played outdoors every day after school unless the weather prohibited our fun. We visited our friends, played board games, went to the movies and watched good programming on television. We did not have the violent video games, the internet and phone texting. We did not see the violence that we see now on television and in the movies. We talked to our friends on the phone but that meant we used our voices to talk and share. This generation is losing the ability to communicate. What happens if all telephones, internet, video games and texting is no longer available?

When we went to school we respected our teachers and other students. We knew if we got into trouble, we got into worse trouble when we got home. Our parents stood up for us but they also listened to the teachers to find out the story of why we were in trouble.

When I was in junior high and high school, we began each day with the pledge to our flag. We shared a verse of scripture from the Bible and a prayer for the day. No one had to participate but everyone felt included. I graduated in 1962 and that was the last year we were allowed to pray or have devotions at the beginning of our school day. Maybe it is time we allow God back into our schools. The rule should work both ways. If you wish to pray you can. If you do not wish to pray you do not. I do believe the Pledge of Allegiance to America should be said every day. We as a nation have become complacent and feel like we can do anything, say anything, and as long as we feel OK then only our rules matter. As long as we the people do not speak out, we are as guilty as those who believe they can say and do anything no matter who is hurt in the process.

I know folks will disagree with my words. That is OK. However, when we see disrespect for others by using disturbing language, protests that destroy cars, businesses and use beatings that almost kill, why is it acceptable? We have been given the right to protest which is fine but hurting others in the process is not. Have you noticed that the television programming has become more and more violent? Have you watched the sitcoms who have characters who degrade others and who do not show respect to family at all? Have you seen the violent video games that kill and destroy? How about the talk shows? When did it become the norm to swear, to slander and to make false statements that hurt others? The news coverage used to be one hour a day. Now the news is on 24 hours. The news anchor used to report on the facts. Today, the anchors use their own beliefs to say what they want us to hear. We have many news outlets and unless you listen to a live broadcast as it takes place, you cannot be sure the facts reported by all stations will be accurate. We are bombarded with news that is not always correct. We should expect our news to be the truth. If not, call them on it. Better yet, do not watch.

I was taught to respect the office of the president of the United States. I don’t always agree with the president of either party but respect the office he represents. I am saddened when our congressmen and congresswomen degrade our president and feel they misrepresent their office by doing so. All our senators and representatives are working for us. If they do not fulfill their representation of us, elect a person who will. I wish our representatives would put forth more energy working for the betterment of our country and less time fighting with each other.

As a mother and grandmother, I continue to worry about all children. I am concerned that the America I knew in my earlier years is disappearing. I know that nothing stays the same. We are asked to change with the times. However, when the changes are causing others to be disrespected and harmed is this the direction we want? It is time for reflection as to what we want America’s future to be for the next generation.

We are free to have various ideas and thoughts. We are free to express our feelings and that is why America is so special. Never fear to express your thoughts, ideas and reflections. That is your right. Our Constitution tells us that we have that freedom as well as the freedom to believe in a God who created us to be thoughtful, forgiving, peaceful, loving, compassionate and full of His grace.

I leave you with these thoughts for the day.

Children’s ears may be closed to advice. But, their eyes are always open to examples.

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything but I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do…..Helen Keller

If you judge people, you have no time to love them………Mother Teresa

We highly resolve that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. And, that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth. ­—President Abraham Lincoln

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