By Craig Funston
It’s dangerous being young these days. I don’t know that from experience, of course, just from sourcing the radio and Internet.
Three main stories caught my eye recently: The five young people who were stabbed to death in Calgary; the hundreds of students who drowned off South Korea; and the grisly accounts of the uber-trerrorist group in northern Nigeria, that is butchering, burning, and beheading—you guessed it—young people in area boarding schools. More on these a little later.
I’m not young myself: I’m pushing 60 this summer, and some days I feel it. Other days, I think there must be a misprint on my birth certificate. Sometimes I hang out with people older than me just to look younger. However, a senior’s discount for coffee at McDonalds always brings me back to reality.
When I was the age of those high school students in Korea, I made a whopping $1.75 an hour, gas was something like .75 cents a gallon, and brand-new homes could be purchased for well below $100,000.
And when I was the age of those university students in Calgary, my own university tuition was calculated in the 100’s of dollars, not thousands. I pay more in gas each month today than I did for tuition for year then.
So these tragedies have hit home: I was once that age; I have kids that age; I teach kids that age. No one deserves to be butchered to death by a “friend” (he was an invited guest); and certainly no one deserves to be trapped in a sunken ferry boat as part of a school excursion. I’m sure we’ll find out why soon enough. And should a school term be tantamount to a death sentence? No, no, and no.
These are the stories that are front and centre as I write. There are others that we see but perhaps don’t pay much attention to. Who can forget the hundreds (if not more) of deaths among Syria’s young? And those who haven’t died have been traumatized, brutalized, and stigmatized because of the war.
With the pain and trauma of those dying—and I am thinking in terms of Calgary, South Korea, and Nigeria, in particular—comes the pain and trauma of those living. Yes, living, as in those left behind: You read or saw the unspeakable grief of the alleged killer’s parents, didn’t you?
You have seen pictures of the devastation of those Korean parents, as they futilely wait for a good word on the fate of their children, haven’t you?
And though I personally have seen nothing from Nigeria, I can only imagine what these folks are feeling. They sent their children away for an education, to better their family’s life, to grasp hope for their future—only to be massacred by an army of anti-education monsters.
I’m not going to weigh in on who deserves to die and who doesn’t. Within my world view, I leave that up to God; within yours, you can fill in the blank. All I can say is that I don’t see how kids celebrating the end of university deserve to die. Nor can I get my head around why kids on a simple school excursion must drown, through no fault of their own. And you can come to the same conclusion regarding eager students in Nigeria.
It’s when you read stories that I’ve alluded to that makes you want to hug your kids one more time, watch yet another movie with them, say something extra special as you tuck them into bed, and so on. We have no idea when something as horrific as a stabbing, a sinking, or a slaughtering will take place.
You can be sure any of the aforementioned kids never did.
I am not at liberty to speak of a good God allowing bad things to happen. The parameters of a secular and public press speak to that. But I can speak of good parents taking time out of their busy schedule to re-affirm their love for their individual children, high school and university students included.
I’m can think of hundreds of parents right now who wished they had that opportunity one more time.