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A reader writes … By George Smith

March 19, 2001

Every newspaper in the United States carried stories and photographs of the tragic shooting in Santee recently. Imperial Valley Press columnist Bret Kofford editorialized about the shooting, asking the question we all ask: What is the answer to all the violence?

His basic answer was: There is no answer. Just hope it doesn't affect us.

Is there an answer? Is there anything we can do? Will anything make a difference in the escalating wars on the school grounds of America?

When disasters strike, often the first reaction is to look to the government for help. When floods ravage North Dakota, the Federal Emergency Management agency is there to provide assistance. When planes crash, the National Transportation Safety Board will find the cause. When humans threaten the existence of endangered kangaroo rats, the Environmental Protection Agency and the courts will ensure that Mother Earth is protected.

But to what extent is government a real answer to our problems? Can any amount of gun legislation stop killings such as those in Columbine or Santana?

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When liberals cry out that guns with which kids kill other kids, yours or mine, could easily be fitted with trigger locks, they call for reasonable restrictions. The conservatives scream, "Second Amendment! Don't mess with the Constitution!"

When conservatives cry out that pornography is easily available to kids, yours or mine, at any public library via the Internet, they call for reasonable restrictions. The liberals scream, "First Amendment! Don't mess with the Constitution!"

Is there no answer? Drugs and alcohol, guns and violent TV, pornography and illicit sex all hurt our kids. Is there really no answer? None?

Ironically, there is an answer, right on the same pages as the pictures and articles that even now continue to appear detailing the crimes on our school campuses. Look at the pictures. What do the grieving ones do in times like these? Where do they turn for help? They pray! Right there in school! They seek God. They go to church to find solace in the comfort that only God can give.

There is an answer!

No amount of legislation can change the heart and mind of a killer. But God's love can. No amount of security or gun locks or even court orders can influence an alcoholic, or a drug addict, or a prostitute. Only a relationship with the One who made you can really change your life, or mine. Oh, that the prayers and petitions were offered before the tragedy! What if schools encouraged kids to pray — before the fact?

Our country doesn't need more laws. It needs people who will obey the ones we have. It needs Christians who will live out their faith, influencing the evil ones in their minds to turn to the only One who can change them. When will we begin to actually try to help those kids who have no hope, but who kill for unknown reasons?

There is no end to the reporting by this paper of the evil in our society. Shootings, drugs busts, theft, lying, cheating and other crimes are never missed in the news. And those are just the schoolyard crimes!

Why not mention in the paper the hope that exists in the world, with equal treatment given the stories of hopelessness? Why not give detailed accounts of lives changed by Jesus Christ? Why not point out the hope that is there to the kid who wants to kill?

Some examples could be the success of Turning Point ministry, New Creations or other faith-based groups. There you can find enough stories of hope and restoration to fill pages. Walter Colace, once a drug addict, now is the pastor of Christ Community Church, ministering to the downtrodden in our society. Chuck Colson, once the despised Watergate villain, now a Christian, leads the largest ministry to prisoners, Prison Fellowship. Every high school campus in the Valley has a Campus Life Club trying to reach out to kids in need. Countless other examples exist, all around us. Only God really changes lives.

Our schools can go back to teaching values — right and wrong. We can be unafraid of offending the few as we openly share faith-based principles with those who desperately need them. Oops, uh, some amendment! So what?

There is an answer.

GEORGE SMITH was born and raised in the Brawley area, where he resides with his wife and two of his five children.

After returning from Peru, where he was a missionary, Smith became the administrator of the learning center at Brawley Union High School.

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