Ceedy Cee was the name of the caretaker of the forest. He kept an eye on the trees and made sure they stayed healthy and safe. As years went by, he noticed that quite a lot of trees were dying. Silently, one by one, tree after tree fell victim, losing their leaves and dying. Thousands and thousands of trees were dying, and Ceedy Cee knew he needed to find out why.
Eventually, he discovered that the village had diverted a much-needed water supply away from the trees in order to make a swimming hole. The villagers enjoyed their swimming hole, but Ceedy Cee knew they loved the forest more, so he told them about the problem and encouraged them to at least divert some of the water back to the forest. It wouldn't be hard and it would save the forest.
Unfortunately, around this same time a logger appeared at the edge of the forest. He started cutting down trees with his sharp, menacing ax, and the people cringed at the sound of their beautiful trees being hacked away. The people began to have meetings about what to do about this evil logger- especially his awful ax! He was killing their trees!
The people met and debated and shouted about what to do about the logger. Meanwhile, Ceedy Cee was continuing his research and saw that the trees were dying from dehydration at an alarming rate. He tried to warn the people, but all they cared about was the logger with the ax. Ceedy Cee couldn't understand how they could be so focused on one logger cutting down two or three trees a day when there were hundreds of trees dying of dehydration every day. But no matter how he tried to warn them, all they cared about was the logger with the ax.
Ceedy Cee then discovered that the reason the logger was cutting down trees was because he used to be a fisherman, but the diversion of the water depleted the fish, so he had to become a logger instead in order to make a living. Ceedy Cee tried to tell the people that by restoring the water supply they could solve both problems, but they were still shouting so loudly about the logger with the ax that no one could even hear him. Despite his best efforts, the trees continued to die, and whenever he tried to talk to them about how to fix it by restoring the water they yelled at him and said that he was just like the logger, an ax-loving tree killer.
Eventually, Ceedy Cee stopped trying, and the forest died off even faster, but there was nothing he could do.
If you understand this parable, you'll understand where I'm going with it.
Let me make it very simple: school shootings are not the leading cause of death among our kids and teens.
School shootings are not even on the list of top causes.* Not even close. 0.002% of all schools in the U.S. have had gun violence in school.
You know what is on the list?
Suicide. I wonder how many schools in the U.S. have had suicides? I can guarantee you it's more than 0.002%.
You know what suicide and mass shootings have in common?
Mentally unstable, depressed people.
You know what's being ignored why we're sitting here yelling at each other about gun control?
How to do a better job of helping mentally unstable, depressed people.
But there's more: you know what has increased in direct proportion to the number of mass shootings in this country?
Guess what experts are now saying is directly correlated to depression in teens and young adults?
Lately I'm feeling a lot like my friend, Ceedy Cee. I bring up these statistics and correlations in discussions and all I hear is, "Well yeah, but THE GUNS! WE MUST DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE GUNS!"
The only reason you want to do something about the guns is because the media is telling you that's what you want.
Let's take a step back from this tree. Let's look at the forest and see what's really happening here. Our kids are dying, but it's NOT from mass shootings in schools. They are more likely to die from catching the flu at school than from someone shooting them at school. Just look at the statistics!
If we're going to help this rising generation survive and thrive, we have to stop letting the media distract us from the real issues so that they can get more clicks and better ratings. As long as they're dangling the carrot and we're blindly going after it, we're ignoring what's really happening. It's not only terribly inefficient, but it's a major disservice to these impressionable kids.
It's time for us to step out of line and start coming up with some real solutions.
*Homicide is a leading cause of death, but not in schools. And again, mentally healthy people don't murder other people. And incidentally, homicide rates have decreased in recent years while suicides have been sharply increasing.