Editor’s Note: LZ Granderson is a journalist and political analyst. He was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago and the Hechinger Institute at Columbia University, and is a co-host of ESPN’s “SportsNation” and ESPN LA 710’s “Mornings With Keyshawn, LZ and Travis.” Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @lzgranderson. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. View more opinion articles on CNN.
I can’t wait until you have kids of your own.
That’s what I tell my son whenever he forgets to check in. Wait until you have kids, then you will understand what happens to parents’ hearts whenever children don’t let them know they’re going to miss curfew, when 24 hours goes by and still no return text message, when you turn on the television and learn a horrific tragedy involving young people has unfolded.
Like what happened at the Pulse nightclub in 2016.
Like what happened at the Ariana Grande concert in 2017.
Like what happened Wednesday night at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California.
Details are still emerging about the country’s latest mass shooting, but what we know is this: Twelve people were shot and killed on “college night” at the bar.
All life is precious, but as a parent, my heart breaks each time I see images of other parents gathered together at the scene of senseless violence, praying for a text that says, “I’m OK.”
Over the years, I have chastised my son numerous times for not checking in. Even now, as he prepares to graduate from college, I still insist he hits me up just so I know he’s fine. And when he has children of his own, he will finally understand I wasn’t insistent that he checks in because I didn’t trust him. I did it because I don’t trust the world.
How could anyone when so often this type of violence happens and we’re left wondering how? How could anyone go into a video game convention and shoot up the place like what occurred in Jacksonville? How could anyone walk into a synagogue and do the same in Pittsburgh? A crowded bar in Thousand Oaks, a place that especially struck a nerve because it’s not far from me and my friends here in Los Angeles.
It’s hard to trust the world with your precious love when time and time again the world just doesn’t make sense. Maybe we’ll find out why a 28-year-old veteran did this. But even if we did, would that feel any better? If it’s a mental health issue, do you think we’ll address it? If it were about how he got or kept his gun, is there an obtainable solution readily available?
I don’t want to be a pessimist, but do you honestly think our leaders will have the stamina to talk about the Thousand Oaks shooting when the cameras are gone? When you are a parent and you see the pain and sense of helplessness of others during these tragedies, it registers. When you see the ineptitude of leaders in the wake such tragedies, that registers as well.
“I’m a Thousand Oaks resident,” 19-year old Erika Sigman said after the attack to the Los Angeles Times. “This is a safe place. My parents let me go here. This is a trusted place. … To know that this happened in my safe place is a very, very scary thing.”
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There are no safe places. Schools, churches, malls … all places where parents used to be able to send their kids and not worry are now the sites of some of the country’s deadliest mass shootings. Sometimes it’s the inner city. Sometimes it’s the suburbs. Weekends and weekdays. Day as well as night. There are no safe places, no safe days, no safe times. To be a parent today is to recognize that no matter how hard we try, we can’t shelter them forever. All we can do is instill good values and ask that they let us know they’re OK from time to time, if for no other reason than for our own peace of mind.
They may not understand the importance of doing so now, but when they have kids of their own, they will.