As published in The Christian Post:
Graduation Day can be the best and worst 24 hours of your life. Trust me, I know. Over my 60 years, I’ve personally been through six graduations.
Graduation Day might be the best day of your life because you know you’ve finished a span of your educational career—and hopefully you finished well. It also might be the worst day of your life because you leave behind what’s familiar—instructors, friends, even hallways and classrooms that have become like a second home.
Whether it’s a good day, bad day, or a mix of both, what all graduates should have in common on this important occasion is a rack of great memories associated with whatever school you’re leaving behind.
Sadly, that’s not the case for many graduates these days.
The escalating numbers of school shootings in America have reduced too many graduations to crisis moments, when missing classmates who should have walked with their peers to collect their diplomas are painfully absent. In many commencement exercises this year, as in years past, names will be read in haunting memoriam, and soberly vivid scenes of dead classmates will blur an otherwise exhilarating day for grieving students and parents alike. This sad situation must never, ever become normalized.
The Psalmist said, “My soul is weary with sorrow . . .” (Ps 119:28a). So should be the souls of all who have had to experience the horror of a school shooting; who must live with the sadness, scars, nightmares and the fear that it may happen again. We should all be weary at a time and culture when people sigh and say, “There’s nothing we can do about it.” We should be weary at the voices that claim the only way to eliminate a mortal threat on school grounds is to make fortresses out of our buildings, erect barriers around fields and tracks that make athletes invisible to those they used to visually inspire, and place heavily armed guards and weapon-wielding teachers at classroom doors, in cafeterias and on rooftops, as if students were inmates and school buildings were penitentiaries.