We are all from Chardon today

My journalism colleagues wish that the tragedy which unfolded yesterday morning at Chardon High School hadn’t happened. This story “has legs” in our profession, meaning that the aftermath of a teen with a handgun killing two teens and wounding three others will be news in the Cleveland area, across Ohio, and around the nation for days to come.

Yesterday I employed the local news coverage of the shootings as lessons in my media writing class at Kent State University. The syllabus called for us to learn about how to write for broadcasting and for the web. The best examples weren’t in a textbook. They were in the newsrooms at WKYC, WEWS, WJW, WOIO, The Plain Dealer, WTAM, the News Herald and Cleveland.com on Monday.

Today the news media’s coverage will move away from basic “Ws” of this story: Who, What and Where, and on to the bigger question: Why and how did such a horrific thing happen? Many things wrong with modern society came together at Chardon High School Monday morning around 7:30 a.m.

Last night a crowd gathered at the Assembly of God Church on Chardon Square to pray for the shooting victims, for the 1,100 students at the high school, and for the community. Today another prayer service will be held at 7 p.m. at the Church of St. Mary, 401 North St., near the schools.

Today we should all be in prayer and in mourning. It is fitting and proper, for we are all from Chardon today.  Every parent who’s ever lost a child is in Chardon, in spirit, with the parents of Danny Parmertor and Russell King, Jr. today.

We would be wise if, in seeking answers, we also went back to our churches and our communities for help, for healing, and for solutions.

The book of Deuteronomy calls upon parents, specifically fathers, to teach right from wrong to their children. Proverbs tells us to instill good character into our sons and daughters.

Moms and dads, we would do well to heed these calls.  If we leave the child rearing to what our children see on cable TV, social media and on the Internet, there will be more tragedies in the years to come.

We need civic organizations that help our children to become more active in our schools.  Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs provide programs that help teens make wise decisions as they mature. Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts, YMCA Y-Guides, and other groups can be present in our communities to assist parents with bring up their children wisely.

Russell King and Daniel Parmertor need not have been murdered in vain. If the Chardon community chooses, it can erect a support system that would offer help and wisdom to every student and every family. A community partnership, involving schools, churches, civic organization and support groups, can make a difference. It can then happen all over our nation.

But perhaps the most important part of any partnership lies with the parents.  Moms and dads must devote the time and attention needed to teach our sons and daughters to know what’s good and what’s right. Too many of us let other things distract from this most important responsibility: Being good parents. William Shakespeare wrote this 500 years ago: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

Today we are all from Chardon. Let’s pray. Let’s mourn.

Tomorrow, let’s take steps to make sure that there are no future tragedies like this one.

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil; God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.  – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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