This morning I woke up to the headline “The Hunt Ends.” The pensive face of a young man, perhaps too young to shave, eyed me from the above-the-fold picture on the front page. My heart was heavy as I read that a 16 year old child, so close in age to our own 15 year old son, has shot and killed a police officer.
Several weeks ago in church, Adrien Helm offered a prayer of gratitude for an insight she received at a workshop related to helping young people who are at risk: Instead of asking, “What is wrong with you?” workshop participants were encouraged to ask, “What happened to you?”
I find myself wondering what happened to this young person, Nicholas Lemmon Lindsey, that he shot and killed a police officer, effectively ending his own life as well? What happened in such a short life to lead to such a devastating result? The actions of this one young person have traumatized not only a family, but friends, the police force, public officials, and the city as a whole. What happened to the teenaged Gibbs student?
In the aftermath of the shooting outside the grocery store in Tucson, where Representative Gabrielle Giffords was wounded and others killed, Congressman C. W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, FL, reflected on the tragedy concluding, “It’s not American.” (St. Petersburg Times, 1/9/11, 4A) I completely agree with Young. The Tucson shootings, the killing of three St. Petersburg Police officers in a month, and countless recent acts of fatal gun violence, are “not American.”
So, I am wondering, instead of asking, “What is wrong with us?” posing the question, “What has happened to us?” What has happened to us as a nation, a society, a culture, that we have come to this point? The headline today declares, “The Hunt Ends.” I think that we need to continue the hunt for what has happened to us that has caused our society to degenerate into such violence. We need to honestly explore our collective history without judgment or blame, seeking insight from our past experiences. This hunt needs to be pursued so that we can discover ways to heal from the devastating violence that is traumatizing our society.
While the hunt for the person who shot and killed St. Petersburg Police Officer David Crawford has ended, may our hunt continue, not for what is wrong with us, but for what has happened to us that we have become so consumed by violence.