The Perfect Storm of a Thousand Mistakes

The Perfect Storm of a Thousand Mistakes

I’m not usually one to write about headlines, but this past week I’ve had trouble thinking about, and certainly writing about, anything else. The school shooting in Florida haunts me. It is yet another reminder that I, a mother, cannot always protect my children. No matter how dedicated and vigilant we are as parents, our children may one day be in harm’s way. That is a difficult fact to accept.

From the moment I became a mother, nothing mattered more to me than my children’s wellbeing. Some twenty plus years later, that is still the case. The mothers I know are “mama bears,” women willing to rip to shreds anyone who threatens our children. It is our instinct, our job, our purpose. 

When we see another mother suffer the injury, illness, or loss of a child, we understand the depth of her pain. We know that what happened to her child could happen to ours. We share her feeling of utter helplessness, the agony of every what if question and if only prayer.

So here we are again, mothers, fathers, all of us, watching politicians and pundits attempt to explain the unexplainable. And we’re sick of it. Sick of empty promises, agenda driven non-solutions, and the 20-20 hindsight analysis of the multiple red flags that were overlooked or disregarded.

I am blinded by tears of anger, of heartbreak, and of shame. Shame that in the United States of America, our children are not safe at school. Government is paralyzed to the point of stupidity. Politicians are beholden to special interest groups, refusing to compromise or consider options that are not in perfect alignment with their agendas. They are afraid of losing party support, endorsements, funding, and elections. 

And what about us? Do we cling to our opinions and beliefs so tightly it defies logic? Do we dismiss the reality of who and what people are? We know that certain individuals are more likely to be violent than others. We know what situations and conditions can lead to deviant behavior. We know how to identify potential school shooters. They are not created in a vacuum and then unleashed upon us like aliens from another planet!

So why do we tip-toe around profiling? It’s what advertisers do every day: the act or process of extrapolating information about a person based on known traits, tendencies, behaviors. Of course it involves generalizations and assumptions, but it’s common sense. There’s a profile for every one of us — just ask Facebook. If an algorithm can identify me as a woman likely to buy shoes, there’s an algorithm that can identify a young man likely to commit violence. 

Following a mass shooting, we learn all about the shooter. He was troubled, lacked proper parenting, had been bullied or isolated or abused. We find out he was obsessed with Hitler, McVeigh, or Columbine. We discover that despite multiple suspensions, expulsions, mental health evaluations, and calls to police, the kid still was able to get his hands on a gun.  

I’m sure there’s a troubled young man somewhere in our country right this minute who identifies with Nikolas Cruz. In his twisted mind, he reveres him and believes that Cruz matters now, when he did not matter before. Will the adults responsible for this young man notice the problem? Will social services intervene? Will his petty crimes be recorded? Will classmates report his bizarre behavior? Will he be helped? Will he be incarcerated? Or will he be ignored? Will he slip between the cracks, get his hands on a gun, and become the next school shooter?

I’m sorry I don’t have the answers. I can only pose the questions. 


“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Rudyard Kipling

We have heard the same story time and time again. And it’s not that we fail to remember it; we just fail to learn from it.

9 thoughts on “The Perfect Storm of a Thousand Mistakes”

    • You are welcome, Mama bear. It was not an easy one to write…. none of them are, but this one was particularly difficult. xo, mama bear 2

  • No truer words were ever spoken. it is even more important for our communities, be they large or small, to seriously pay attention to their children and their children’s schools. Get involved, really SEE how things are, and make a difference for all our children., It does require your time and focus to do this, Our government, regardless of who is in any office cannot protect our schools or our children. Our children cannot vote, their voices are only echoes. As parents and family we have to be our childrens ifirst line of defense.

    • Thanks Shelly – yes, a first line of defense in a number of lines of defense. So sad that we even need to think this way. xo

  • Great piece, Julie. It appears that people DID know about this monster. But, laws protect monsters-in-waiting. Unfortunately, you cannot incarcerate people who haven’t committed crimes. He definitely demonstrated all the signs, and even posted violent content on social media,…and people were well aware of him; Law enforcement, FBI, school officials, classmates. He certainly shouldn’t have been able to buy guns. Wouldn’t it be great if laws were in place arresting people before they commit crimes and dissallowing Nazis, and terror sympathizers from buying guns? But,…how would that work? I think I saw some movies about that…Would a background check have even kept this guy from legally getting a gun? I feel so bad for the good folks and their son who took him in trying to give him a reasonable life, despite the loss of his parents.. They thought they could help him,…and he duped them. Their one big mistake,…they should have taken away his guns, not bought him a safe for them. They were trying to be loving and compassionate and now they are living with the horror of having helped this crazy. Terrible, terrible tragedy.

  • Julie, as is often the case, you hit the nail on the head. Eloquently. On my way to work I drive by 5 schools . One elementary, two parochial schools and two high schools. They’re all fenced in some way, but still I wonder. Could someone come in and harm these children? This week, how many parents dropped off their kids in the morning and worried more than usual about them all day.
    It’s a horrid situation, and the inaction and ineptitude of our politicians is appalling. But, in the past several days, I’ve felt a glimmer of hope. When I hear these students speaking their truth, getting politically involved and demanding action from the government , I am encouraged. No child should go through the trauma they have. But to turn their anger and devastation into a movement, makes me proud and brings me to tears. There may be hope for us, yet.

  • Julie, Your piece on the Florida shooting was the best I’ve read on the subject. Most have been predictable and political. Yours was passionate and reasoned, a rare combination.

  • My opinion is trained armed guards onsite is the most logical solution. In a shooting event police response time is too slow- even two or three minutes is too slow. As for airport type security, you”ve taken the students and lined them up at the door like a plate rack at a shooting gallery. A shooter could drive up and fire four or five magazines, the kids would panic, many would be shot, and the shooter could just drive away. In that situation no one would be able to describe either the shooter or his car. Maybe and it”s a big maybe, the shooter would be on a camera aimed at the parking lot, but it”s not likely. As far as students rushing the shooter, these are thirteen to maybe eighteen year old kids. You can”t ask that of them. The military takes the better part of a year to brainwash, and be honest, that”s what it is, their recruits to the point of being able to kill another human being when ordered. Gun control is a bad joke. It will disarm the law abiding people who won”t kill anyone, and leaves the criminals as the only civilians with guns. And they have no sense of morality to stop them from killing. Until we can read their minds to stop psychopaths before they kill, the rational solution is to have armed, alert, and ready security onsite for the fastest possible response time.

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