Saturday, June 20, 2015

Father's Day: What's Missing?

As my Facebook feed and TV screen are filled with images from the Charleston church shooting, I think of fathers. It could be that tomorrow is the day that our society (or the greeting card and necktie industries) decided to honor Dads, but that’s where my thoughts are.

I’m saddened for the families of the nine victims. Those who lost their fathers and the fathers who lost their wives, mothers, and sisters.

Although we like to try to minimize any attention on the perpetrator in situations like this, as if by withholding the spotlight, we will in some small way slight them by denying any notoreity, I think we should do the opposite. I don’t want to see the shooter’s mugshot plastered everywhere. I don’t want to see his weird bowl cut hairdo or his racist bumper stickers. What I want to see are pictures of him as a child. I want to see him embracing a toy truck on Christmas morning. I want to see him eating watermelon at a summer picnic. I want to see him next to a sandcastle on a summer vacation. I want to see a picture of him with his Dad, rebuilding a 1962 Corvette. I want to try to see where it all went wrong.

In the news reports that have emerged since Wednesday’s shooting, we’ve been told that the shooter attained a .45-caliber Glock shortly after his 21st birthday, two months ago. In one report, he purchased the gun himself. In another, it was his father who gave it to him. I wonder, did the senior Roof know what evil his son might commit with this gift? 

In a statement this week, the shooter’s uncle was quoted as saying, “his mother never raised him to be like this...I’d be the executioner myself if they would allow it.” Well, that’s fine and all, but were you a strong role model for your nephew these last 21 years?

I want to hear from the shooter’s friend, Joey Meek, and maybe his father. Joey overheard the shooter on several occasions spanning years spouting racist comments and plotting to “do something.” After a night of intemperance and drunken ranting, this friend was apparently so concerned that he hid Roof’s gun for a period of time, eventually returning it. I want to know if this friend’s Dad ever overheard any of this kind of talk. Did he say to his own son, “you need to make better choices when it comes to friends?”

To the community in the shooter’s hometown of Columbia, I would ask, “did you do enough?” Did you see or hear anything that was an early indicator to the evil that was growing within this person? He had prior drug charges, was banned from an area mall, he was held back in school, he possibly changed his middle name, he donned white supremacist insignia. If anyone was looking for a sign, there were about five right there.

I know it’s not popular, but I’m going to say it. Our country needs help and the kind of help it needs is fathers. We need families again. We need Moms and Dads. We need positive male role models. We need a strong leader for this country. And we need the number one Father for the country and our world brought back to the center. So, this Father’s Day, I’ll wrap up a virtual tie for my Father, along with a prayer that He heal our hearts and our souls, that He fortify us to resist and fight the devil when he tries to infiltrate our perimeter, and that we, as a nation, can make Him the foundation upon which everything we say, do, or create is built.