One of my early memories of the sinister intentions of some residents of this planet was a burglary at the Rolla, Mo., elementary school at which I was attending kindergarten at the time.
I have no idea what the culprit made away with, if anything, but I do remember us children being shown the evidence that the burglar had visited the campus. Apparently it had snowed; I recall us being shown the footprints the culprit had left behind the school building.
I suppose that was the school's way of helping our young minds to process this deed. That, and the fact that our kindergarten teacher took comments from us, allowing us to share our thoughts about the incident.
If I recall correctly, I raised my hand and expressed how I'd have handled this burglar had I been Superman, or had his powers.
I find myself briefly wishing for those powers in the wake of the latest school shooting. Super physical powers to stop it. Or, better yet, super foreknowledge to have prevented it.
We're all still reeling from the events of May 24. That day, an 18-year-old man shot his grandmother, then went to Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas and ended the lives of 19 children and two teachers. "The massacre marked the deadliest U.S. school shooting in nearly a decade and was at least the 30th school shooting at a K-12 school in 2022," according to a cnn.com story.
Like many, I hadn't had a chance to grieve over the loss of the Buffalo, N.Y., residents who'd been killed by another 18-year-old shooter in a grocery store on May 14. Or the man killed by a shooter in a Presbyterian church in Laguna Woods, Calif., the very next day.
Sadly, there has been enough of this particular evil to go around. People of all races, creeds and colors have fallen victim to shootings that have increased exponentially in recent years.
Mentioned numerous time after the Uvalde shooting has been the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown, Conn., when a 20-year-old shot and killed 20 children, ages 6 and 7, and six adults. And there was Columbine High. Virginia Tech. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. And Arkansas' own mass shooting, which occurred March 24, 1998, when two youngsters, 13 and 11, killed four students and a teacher at Westside Middle School near Jonesboro.
I'm among those who pray but am also among those who feel that saying my "thoughts and prayers" go out to families affected by such tragedies has become about as meaningful as promising that the check is in the mail. And I heave a heavy sigh at the political fights that seem to arise from all such tragedies ... fights that lead to, well, business as usual.
But, back to the children. We've long known that the world has become an unsafe place. But it would be nice if we could go the distance to ensure that our children could enjoy their childhood by being made safe ... safe from those who would abuse and mistreat them, let alone murder them. During my kindergarten year, my elementary school was hit by a burglar looking to steal material things. Too many burglars who are prepared to steal our children's lives — and our children's innocence — exist.
It's enough to make us want to beat the wall in frustration and wish there was something better to do than simply pledging our thoughts and prayers, or sending donations to help families pay funeral expenses.
Going past the blame and the politics, I mourn the poisoning of the mind of that young shooter, just as I mourn the mind poisoning of the young people who seem heck-bent on shooting each other up every week here in Little Rock. If only someone could have gotten to them and headed these evil actions off at the pass.
As I worked on this column, a TV news channel flashed an image of children with pictures of the Uvalde shooting victims around their necks. The newscaster mentioned one child's sign, a sign that asked the question: "Am I next?"
I wish I had those Superman powers to ensure that child won't be.