Fox News analyst Jonathan Morris suggested in the wake of our grief after the events in Connecticut that we should “double-down on love.” I agree.
In Aurora, Colo., in July, a mentally unstable 24-year-old fired on moviegoers, some no older than my daughters. He stole the lives of 12 people and wounded 50. On Dec. 14, a mentally unstable 20-year-old opened fire on schoolchildren, teachers and administrators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. People from all backgrounds have manifested their darkest feelings through murder in our cities and in places like Columbine, Virginia Tech and the federal building in Oklahoma City.
While we know we will never sufficiently answer the “why” question, I think we can start to address the question, “How do we prevent this from happening again?”
I appreciated the president's poignant and heartfelt address from the Newtown vigil on Dec. 16. He posited that we need change in America, and I agree. Many Americans are already calling for increased federal gun control, more mental health program funding and other ideas for the anger epidemic that requires a national lifestyle change.
After a major national tragedy, it's natural for Congress to want to “do something.” I get it. I also have children in school. I understand the emotion of dropping your kids off at school after a school shooting, but it's essential that we “do something” to solve the problem, not just “do something.” We can't legislate away every depraved human behavior, but our families can take Morris' advice and start to fix the heart of the matter in the heart of our culture.
We need to start talking again, face to face, about how to fix our downtrodden society. Our families need our help. Parents struggle to make ends meet and end up spending less time at home. Because of the isolation resulting from social media and smartphones, children increasingly seek sanctuary from the pain of growing up from the Internet instead of their parents, teachers, counselors and faith leaders.
As families dissolve, communities disperse and church congregations wane, Americans are increasingly isolated, and our children suffer most. Every day in the United States, 181 children are arrested for violent crimes and 383 children are arrested for drug abuse. Authorities report 2,383 children are abused or neglected. American married couples end up divorced, and only 40 percent of Americans attend church regularly.
How can we help? We can start by recommitting ourselves to our families. The holiday season is a great opportunity to reinvest in our family members, church community and volunteer organizations. Instead of waiting for Washington to develop solutions, let's show our children that real care starts at the dinner table, in the classroom and mostly from our quiet conversations with God.
Americans are too good to allow evil to dominate our culture, our schools and our families. We must turn fathers' hearts back to their children.
Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, is Oklahoma's 5th District congressman.