You Can Make a Difference

In March of 1993, a 14-year-old student from Haltom City, Texas, killed a policeman and seriously wounded three of his neighbors. In the exchange of gunfire, he was killed.

There has been much speculation about this tragedy. Outwardly, things seemed normal. His father was on the police force. They were a middle-class, law-abiding family. The reality is his classmates made fun of his clothing and called him a nerd, and he did poorly in school. That Saturday, his parents had disciplined him and made him stay home to study. As a result, something “snapped” and the tragedies occurred.

We can only wonder what drove him to take the action he took. Question: Could this tragedy have been prevented? What might have happened had an individual in an organized group like the Scouts, FFA, Four-H or a youth group at a church taken a concerned interest in him?

I don’t want to hang a guilt-trip on anyone living in Haltom City who might read this, but I would like to communicate a message. In our fast-paced world where “things” seem to be more important than people, we need to be more sensitive to what’s going on around us — more concerned about the “loner” who has no friends, is not invited to participate in any groups or activities, is rejected by society at large and builds up the kind of anger this youngster expressed in such a tragic way.

Another message I’m delivering is that we need to teach our children to be more sensitive to those around them and befriend those who need a friend. There are double benefits in that approach. The one who does the befriending ends up an even bigger winner, and the one who is befriended becomes a friend and is grateful. Take that approach, and I’ll see you at the top!

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