William Hamilton

Don’t just do something, do everything

Carriages and car seats and pediatrician appointments.  We stop at nothing to keep our kids safe. In the aftermath of the latest mass-murder in a school setting, our kids deserve more than our doing something about it. They deserve our doing everything about it.

Reforms in law enforcement practice, weapon availability, mental healthcare, entertainment violence, social media habits, newsroom norms, and schoolyard security are each required.  But remedying one failed-system is insufficient.  They all demand repair to help restore our schoolyards into sanctuaries for learning and bright futures.

Weapons of mass destruction must become much harder to obtain.  Mental health services must become much easier to obtain.  Proactive police measures that protect our freedoms and our lives must be adopted.  Movie and video-game makers who routinize violence as the only action that sells, need to do more than hide behind warning labels.  News outlets need to resist granting notoriety to killers.  Before they kill we want to know much more about them.  Afterwards they deserve to be erased.  Lawmakers who insist that making new laws will not work need to find different work.  And social media outlets need to alert authorities to violently anti-social threats.  Expression should always be free and unfettered.  But it is never free of consequences.

This week the Torah underscores the importance of multi-pronged approaches to dispelling darkness.  The portion begins by instructing our ancestors to bring properly processed olive oil for kindling lamps consistently (ner tamid) (Ex. 27:20).  The eternal light being addressed is the seven-branched Menorah.  It requires seven flames.  A sevenfold approach is required to generate brightness and dissipate darkness.  Moreover, the Hebrew word for consistent or eternal, tamid, occurs seven times throughout the portion.  This suggests that problem-solving must also be ceaseless, remaining resilient and relentless.  The fight for our children’s safety never stays won.

Destruction that results in mass casualties is never mono-causal.  May we draw inspiration from students who seek to bring influence from school corridors into the halls of lawmaking and leadership.  And may the bright future that their classmates deserved help to enlighten ours.

About the Author
Rabbi William Hamilton has served as rabbi (mara d'atra) of Kehillath Israel in Brookline, MA since 1995.
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