RIPON RESIDENT AND avid supporter of President Trump Dennis Volstad wears his “Make A    merica great again” cap as he works on the computer at the Ripon Public Library. Tim Lyke photo
RIPON RESIDENT AND avid supporter of President Trump Dennis Volstad wears his “Make A merica great again” cap as he works on the computer at the Ripon Public Library. Tim Lyke photo

     Responding to last week’s shooting slaughter of 11 at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, President Trump observed that “something has to be done ... If they’d have had some kind of a protection inside the temple, maybe it could have been a very much different situation.”

     The president is right.

     And wrong.

     The status quo certainly is unacceptable.

     But to suggest, as he did later in his extemporaneous comments, that an armed guard inside the synagogue might have saved lives, likely is true but is impractical and reflects timidity.

     To provide armed guards at each of America’s 3,727 synagogues, 45,000 churches, 99,000 public schools or 30 million businesses is folly, logistically and existentially.  

     Living in armed fortresses is not who we freedom-loving Americans are.

     Trump can marvel at all the sea of red caps he views at his rallies. But America will never be “great again” if it regresses from civilization into armed anarchy.

     Here in Ripon, our district administrators conscientiously are hardening our schools to guard against an active shooter.

     They are doing this because their portion of $100 million in state grant money has enabled them to better protect our children. This, despite the odds of a youngster being killed by a gun at school on any day since 2009 was 1 in 614 million ...

     Ripon city officials in their current budget deliberations are considering some portion of a $57,000 package of security improvements following a Ripon resident’s threats ...

     It’s fair to ask whether such measures by the school district and city are necessary or an overreaction to well-publicized situations that don’t put Ripon at any greater risk than they did before they occurred.

     But whether our leaders’ fears are following facts, this point is irrefutable: America is moving backward.

     Our leaders seek NRA guidance before opposing background checks for all gun sales and stiffening penalties for gun sellers ... Then we wonder in our trigger-crazed culture why more troubled individuals are using human beings for target practice.

     We unthinkingly embrace social media and then express displeasure at being hacked, manipulated, lied to and treated as political pawns. ...

     We fight to legalize marijuana while decrying an opioid epidemic that not only is the worst drug crisis in American history, but has children continue to live with their addict parents because foster homes are full.

     We give our children devices that enable them to connect to all corners of the world at all hours and then gnash our teeth as they increasingly feel bullied, distracted, distressed and attention-deficit disordered.

     We dial down the civility part of our civil discourse and then wonder why we are increasingly angry, exhausted and divided.

     It isn’t just children who are suffering from emotional and social trauma.

     Their parents, these days, are an anxious brood. Their world is spinning faster but not better. They envy seemingly happier people on Facebook, have greater means of communication yet are less informed ...

     What are the antidotes to their stress?  

     Calm. Courtesy. Compassion. Consideration of others.

     These are the guideposts that can lead us out of the current morass of our own making but they require a self-confidence that overshadows fear, a belief in a higher power ... and an ethic that demands empathy, an open mind and a giving heart.

     These can come from church communities, families, teachers, friends — but absent an unanxious  effort to be more just and act more kind, “Make America great again” while a lucrative slogan for a cap peddler will be no more than a useless bromide for a nervous nation.  
                                   — Tim Lyke

     To read the entire editorial, see the Nov. 1, 2018 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.