By Ginny Dent Brant
Our country was thrown into shock on December 14th. A jolt so astounding it still resonates in our souls today. How could anyone enact such anger on such innocence? Is man so depraved he could commit such a horror? Apparently so. For those of us who work on the front lines of our culture, we’ve seen this coming for some time. Unfortunately, as our culture continues in a downward spiral, there is more to come.
When I first entered the field of public education 35 years ago, the doors of schools were wide open. Madeline O’Hare had already filed her lawsuit which led to the Supreme Court ending the reading of the Bible and later prayer in public schools. The thought that someone might come in and harm a young child during the school day was unheard of and unimaginable.
My own innocence began to shatter when a parent threatened me and accused me of beating his son. His wife later apologized and told me the dad himself was the abuser. I can’t begin to tell you the times my life has been threatened for doing my job which includes protecting children who are in danger, and sometimes preventing parents from seizing their children due to a court order. At times, I was able to anticipate that police intervention was necessary and their presence was prevention. Sometimes, it was too close for comfort.
One of Many Examples
Years later at a different school, a father released from prison told a prison guard, “I’m going to get my daughter no matter what those lawyers say.” Unfortunately, I was in charge of school that day and a prison official called to alert me. What was I to do? When I put the school into a lock down, the secretary said, “Mrs. Brant we’ve never done that before.” I replied, “Well, I’m in charge and if he comes through that door, it’s just me to stop him. He can’t come through that door!” I retrieved his cell number from his mother and called him. He told me he was coming and I could not stop him. I bluffed saying, “If you come to take her, an armed police officer will meet you at the front door.” We were spared by a bluff, but we on the front lines need better protection than a bluff. Shortly after that, schools were locked down with one entrance and entry granted by permission. Reality has set in. There are few safe havens in a free society.
Yes, times have rapidly changed over the past fifty years. We’ve moved from the main school problems being littering and talking out of turn, to drug and alcohol abuse, pregnancy, suicide, and assault. Our most valuable resource for the future, our children, must be protected. The level of our protection must change as our society changes.
I believe the solution must be three pronged. We must have armed officials (whether volunteer or hired) at every school. I can’t begin to tell you how many times a police officer saved our day. The time has come for every school to have armed security. Some school districts have proactively announced they are adding resource officers by January 2, 2013.
Our founding fathers supported our right to bear arms. Leaders such as Stalin, Hitler, Castro and Lenin opposed it. After hearing about the incident in Newtown, President Obama immediately raised the issue of gun control. But the only way to keep the bad people with guns out is having good people armed within. It is the only thing that would have spared the lives at Sandy Hook. Guns are not the problem—people are. Some people are calling for a ban on assault weapons. Some are calling for a ban on all guns. If we remove all guns from its citizens, then we are setting ourselves up for tyranny to. This nation was founded upon Judeo-Christian principles and has always stood against tyranny.
We must also provide mental health services for children who demonstrate a need. Many school districts are beginning to do this by sending mental health personnel providing therapy several days each week at each school. Although costly, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. As a counselor, when I refer a child out for therapy, most parents do not follow through. Ask any teacher, and they can tell you who is most likely to be the next violent killer. Early identification and therapy can make a difference. According to Charles Krauthammer, in 1980, we had strong commitment laws for mentally ill patients and weak gun control laws. Now we have reversed our thinking and as a result, have far more mass murders. We must be able to protect our citizens from those who are chronically mentally ill and prone to violence.
We must also address the toxic culture children are being raised in today—broken homes, sexual promiscuity, alcohol and drug addiction, and violence on television, movies, videos, and in music. Too many children are being raised by the media. Over 75% of all prime-time TV shows contain some act of verbal, physical or mental violence. Inappropriate sex is also viewed on too many TV programs. Our nation is now on the other side of three major revolutions that have saturated and impacted our children: sex, drugs, and violence. There is no glamour in these sins—only consequences. Hollywood must take a look at its role in what is happening to America. This chart (by Carl Boyd) shows how the major influences in our culture have changed from the 1960’s to the 1990’s. Parents must consciously incorporate a home plan to protect their children from the toxic culture and influences around them.
Over the Moral Cliff
Arnold Toynbee, a respected British historian said before his death, “Of the 22 civilizations that have appeared in history, 19 of them collapsed when they reached the moral state the US is in now.” Our country is concerned about the fiscal cliff, but in my eyes from the front lines, the moral cliff is equally as important. It is drastically contributing to the fiscal cliff. Every act of immorality costs this nation. This Newsweek poll shows the concerns twenty years ago and who’s to blame. I would say the blame is accurate.
The Crack in Our Foundation
My mother grew up in a broken home where her father abandoned her family when she was young. When your first line of defense is fractured, it’s difficult to recover. My mom went seeking for answers for the deep questions that beat in her broken heart, “Am I worthy to be loved if my own father did not love me?” In her day, my mother was the exception to the rule. Today, her situation is the growing norm. Her questioning led her patent leather shoes to a church down the street on Sunday. It took her until the age of 45 to completely heal from her home brokenness. The only true healing comes from the One who made us. The best antidote for any child is two involved parents who love them unconditionally and who are grounded in their faith. When children are not securely attached to their parents in the earlier years, they tend to grow up without a conscience (from High Risk: Children Without A Conscience by Dr. Ken Magid and Carole McKelvey). We are creating a generation of high risk children. Our most important building block of our society, the family, is fractured. According to Dr. Armand Nicoli of Harvard University, the family is where relationships must be established early in life.
Being Salt and Light
The common threads seen in these massacres are that most of the shooters are male, white, come from broken homes, and were brought up with aplenty. Rarely do you hear that any of them grew up in a home that modeled and taught them a strong faith in God. Children who are hurting are seeking for answers and help. Our churches must step up to the plate to meet those needs.
My appreciation and admiration goes out to the churches that conduct Good News Clubs in elementary schools and have bus ministries to pick up those children who have no hope in life. I’ve seen the difference it makes when Godly couples provide stable foster and permanent homes for children who desperately need it. Mentoring is another way God’s people can make a difference in the life of a child. My mother could walk to church in her day. Today’s children must have a way or someone to come to them. The church and its members must be the salt and light God has called us to be in this dark culture.
The Real Solution
As we see our culture caving in all around us, the solution is evident. Man is made up of body, mind, and spirit. We are trying to cultivate the next generation without the most important part—the spirit. The spirit influences the mind and the body. We keep coming up with man-made solutions such as sex education for pregnancy rates, and drug abuse and conflict resolutions programs for the increase in drugs and violence.
We’ve forgotten the Ten Commandments and the protection they give us when we apply them to our lives. We’ve neglected the wisdom and warnings from our founding fathers. Noah Webster stated, "The moral principles and precepts contained in the scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. . . All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible." John Adams reminded us, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.” Our first president, George Washington declared, “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” And Benjamin Franklin clearly warned, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
At a time when we need God the most, our culture is gradually removing Him and His protection out of our everyday lives. In our sinful and arrogant nature, we feel we no longer need God. Then we erroneously blame Him when things go terribly wrong.
It’s time we realize the main thing we are missing is God. Materialism never satisfies the longings of the heart. Only relationships both vertically and horizontally can meet the needs of one’s heart. If we can’t pray, talk about God, or read from His word, what answers can we give our most valuable resources and the future of our country—our children?
The only cure for what ails us in this day is a spiritual revival. And that begins with the people of God. A revival can change the hearts of men, align us in right relationship with God and His principles, and restore the family to what God created it to be.
Ginny Dent Brant is a writer and speaker who grew up in the halls of power in Washington, DC. Her book about her spiritual journey with her father, Harry S. Dent, Sr., Finding True Freedom: From the White House to the World was released in 2010. She is a former trustee of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Ginny and her husband Alton live in Clemson/Seneca, SC. More info at www.ginnybrant.com