By: Lonny Anger
When I first moved to Parkland, I did not realize how close we were to the Everglades.
Everglades = Alligators.
The first time I saw an alligator, I was stunned. I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t really know much about them – should I be scared? Put the dogs away? Run?
Having been here for a while now, I have become used to seeing alligators. It doesn’t mean that I don’t take precautions, since alligators are still dangerous creatures when not handled properly.
They just don’t faze me anymore.
Since my last article in February, we have already been witness to the mass shootings at the Poway Synagogue in California, and the UNC shooting at the Charlotte campus.
And just this week, another school shooting in Highlands Ranch, Colorado where my sister lives.
Places where there was an expectation to feel safe.
I’ll likely write another article in 3 months, and I am sure there will be other shootings to take their place.
And similar to alligators, they just don’t faze me anymore.
I don’t mean that in the sense that I am not devastated by the life loss or the impact it will have on those who either witnessed it, their family members, or members of the community – I mean it that when I hear about it now, it simply does not shock me because it is such a common occurrence.
I am actually more shocked when it doesn’t happen for an extended period of time.
Life in Parkland/Coral Springs is different now.
That’s probably not a surprise.
There are certain issues that still are hindering us from properly moving forward, although many people are trying very hard to help the community.
Most of the families of those murdered have taken up their causes in the name of their loved ones. Several in the community have become activists, others have started charitable organizations, and numerous people have supported events to help spread the message of either safer schools, address mental health, or sensible gun laws.
I do not consider myself an activist, nor overly political.
I am involved in charitable organizations, and do try to support as many events as possible.
However, my largest contribution and what I am most passionate about is writing. For some reason, God wired my mind to be able to put a couple of words together that may make sense to some people.
I have been told that I have been able to capture what many are thinking, and be able to transfer that to paper.
However, not everyone supports that.
Despite that positive feedback, I do get a lot of private and public messages where there is plenty of disagreement.
Sometimes from random people that I do not know.
Sometimes from friends and family members.
Sometimes from people who sound like they are threatening me.
And do you know what?
I write for a variety of reasons – I write because I don’t want anyone to ever forget what happened, and how it will continue unless real change occurs. I write to have a voice to represent our community. I write to help prepare others outside of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas community, for when a mass shooting happens in their town or city.
Someone reading this article will likely be directly impacted during the next school shooting.
It could very likely be you.
So, if I am willing to take on the criticism along with the praise, I’ll ask you to do the same regarding what I see as the four P’s of Parkland:
Politics, Parenting, Posting, and Perseverance
As I have stated above, I don’t consider myself a political person. I am a registered Republican, but I consider myself critical of both parties.
We have to get our act together as a Country.
Even Saturday Night Live chose not to make fun of the previous week in politics, because of the ridiculousness of it all.
The divide is widening, and progress seems to be limited.
Congressional hearings have been happening on a more frequent basis, and it becomes a game of “who can get the best sound bite for the cable news.”
I don’t understand how regardless of the issue, Republicans and Democrats cannot seem to find fault within their own party.
How is that even possible? You mean to tell me that every single issue has to be voted along party lines?
That has crept into the American people too, especially within the Parkland/Coral Springs community.
My friends who are staunch Republicans won’t even consider the President did anything wrong.
They always find an excuse, and if they don’t have an answer they reference one of the following things:
Joe Biden Inappropriate Touching
My friends who are staunch Democrats will latch onto anything that could lead to impeachment. They won’t even consider giving Trump credit for anything.
They always find an excuse, and if they don’t have an answer they reference one of the following things:
Trump’s Tax returns
Economy growth is because of Obama
Here is the thing – we absolutely must find some common ground.
I don’t understand how we can’t have a reasonable conversation about real issues, and come to some kind of compromise.
For instance, if I had the floor – here is how I would start the discussion regarding topics I have seen supported within Parkland:
Building a wall and more sensible gun laws are on the table. Why? Because they are similar. How? Because Democrats say that building a wall won’t keep out drug dealers, etc. because they will find other ways to get across the border. Republicans say that more gun regulation won’t stop mass shootings, because criminals will always find a way to get a gun/weapon.
See the parallel here?
So, let’s do this – Let’s agree to build a wall along the border and in exchange, we will have universal background checks and ban assault weapons.
Republicans say “Hey, we can’t ban assault weapons, next you will come for our guns – and the issue is mental health, not guns”.
Democrats say – “OK, we’ll put in a provision for the next 1,000 years that legal gun ownership will always be allowed so there is no concern about the Second Amendment, we ban assault weapons, and we will also pass a bill mandating mental health services in all 50 states.’
Now I am being overly general, but do you see how this works? Give something to get something.
I don’t find it that hard or complicated.
If I didn’t already piss people off in the last section, wait until you read this one.
In a recent social media healing group, the issue was raised about vaping and how it is an epidemic at school, particularly Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Unscientific estimates put usage at 50%+ at the school. Maybe higher.
That’s not as high as “Not My Child Syndrome” that affects 90 percent of the parents, with the remaining 10 percent that just don’t know they have it as I have referenced in previous articles.
You may say that vaping is no big deal. You may compare it to when you were in high school, where smoking cigarettes may be the parallel.
Here is the difference.
Your smoking cigarettes in high school didn’t cause them to lock the bathroom doors, and therefore not allowing kids fleeing a murderer to get to safety – as was the case at MSD.
I have stated before that we all bear responsibility for the shooting. We as a community let our guard down and stopped asking questions about school safety because we believed that we lived in one of the safest neighborhoods in the state, if not the country.
Therefore, although it was the school’s decision to lock those doors – if your kid was vaping on school premises and you knew about it, then you are a contributor to the failures along with many others.
I know that sounds harsh, mean, and judgmental.
And you may ask yourself – Who does this guy think he is? What kind of parent is he?
Those are valid questions.
While I think my kids are great kids, it’s my wife who deserves all of the credit.
If they truly are.
Maybe my kids are the biggest drug dealers at their respective schools, maybe they are vaping, and maybe they are the ones filming the fights instead of helping break it up?
Maybe I am clueless, and I am part of the 90 percent.
And if they are, here is what I wouldn’t do:
I wouldn’t blame it on the school.
I wouldn’t blame it on the teachers.
I wouldn’t blame it on their friends.
I would own the problem. Recognize there is something that I missed or didn’t do, and fix it.
Maybe take away their phone.
Maybe get them evaluated for mental health issues.
But I wouldn’t be in denial that I am responsible for their actions.
So here is my solution to the vaping problem:
First, the school needs better preventive measures. Can’t smell vaping odor? Train dogs to so, the same way they train dogs to identify cancer on patients. (While they are at it, train dogs to identify weapons on students/visitors.)
Any student caught vaping on school premises, gets a suspension. They cannot come back to school until their parent or guardian spends a day performing an in-school suspension.
I know that seems like a severe punishment, and will certainly impact single family households more.
But we as parents must be held more accountable for our kid’s actions.
Look at some of the bad parenting from Mass Shootings.
Sandy Hook shooter’s mom bought him guns.
Santa Fe shooter used his father’s guns.
Parkland Shooter’s Mom also bought him guns, and family that took him in allowed him to keep them.
Regardless of your opinion on guns, I think we can all agree none of these murderers should have had access.
For anyone caught committing one of these horrific crimes, their parent’s should be prosecuted.
They need to demonstrate that they did everything they could to help their child – take them to therapy, have an intervention, have them put in jail – because otherwise, they should serve time too.
In the case of the Parkland shooter, his parents are dead but there are plenty of other people that should be in jail for not doing what they could to prevent the MSD massacre.
I recently attended a family therapy session – I learned that clinically speaking, kids between the ages of 12-22 are considered adolescents.
Therefore, it is in my humble opinion that anything that your kids do between those ages is your responsibility.
If you child sends a nude selfie, that’s on you.
If you child has possession of a nude selfie, that’s also on you and you can be prosecuted if you are the one paying the bill.
In my day, I was never asked to hold anything for anyone, and I never asked anyone to hold anything for me that was mine.
If your kid says the vaping apparatus that was found on them was someone else’s, you are simply in complete denial.
If there is a one percent chance that that turns out to be true, that’s also on you as a parent for not explaining to your kids the consequences if they get caught.
If we take great pride in our kids accomplishments and blast them all of over social media, then you also need to take responsibility for when your kid does something wrong.
And trust me – other parents are talking about your bad parenting.
Either that, or you will always be part of the 10 percent.
I used to really enjoy Facebook, however many of you are ruining it.
About 20 percent of you, who represent 80 percent of all posting that are negative, race baiting, and politically enticing.
There are some of my friends who I just want to ask the following questions:
“What tragic thing happened to you that you are now off the deep end – you weren’t like that when we knew each other previously?”
“Do you really believe that your constant posting about politics has changed anyone’s mind?
“Did you realize that the same five people respond to your posts?”
And here is the most important question:
“Can you show me anything that you have done, other than posting on social media, that has been as productive as the people/organizations you bash?
One example that I must bring up is of course, guns. I see posts all the time about “not taking away my Second Amendment rights”, and “it’s about mental health”.
OK, let’s say I agree.
Show me what you have done to promote more mental health services. Have you joined a charitable organization? Spent some time at an event? Volunteered at a mental health facility for young adults?
I recently watched a documentary, and the person being interviewed said this:
“A troll has all the power and none of the responsibility”.
That is absolutely true if you are one of those people that post and don’t engage in an activity to support your cause.
You want to learn about your kids and not be part of the 90%? Stalk them on social media. Stalk their friends on social media. You will soon learn all you need to know about your kids by what gets posted.
Privacy concerns? That’s a bullshit cop out, until you stop paying their cell phone bill.
Social Media was not around when I was a teenager. Probably not part of your life either.
It’s a different world with different rules now.
And if we really want to put a stop to bad behavior, then social media is a place to start.
Since I often write about Parkland, I often point out some of the issues that we have going on here.
Truth be told, we just happen to be on a national platform for all of the wrong reasons.
However, despite what has occurred here and the things I write about – I still very much love living here.
Unfortunately, we are now defined as a community that was involved in a mass shooting.
But I hope in the near future, we get defined as something else.
All led by the families/friends of the 17 killed and 17 injured.
The families endured a tragedy that I cannot even begin to fathom.
I get choked up each time I hear a story about any of the lives we have lost – and especially when I see their families.
Yet, these families continue to do everything they can to ensure the safety of our children.
They continue on despite the haters, the obstacles, and the pain.
They have taken their grief, and turned it into action.
Some of things they stand for are tougher to get changed.
I am motivated by their desire to not allow their loved ones to have been murdered in vain.
They are getting louder, while so many of us are getting quieter.
I see a lot of great things happening here, that the rest of the Country should appreciate because it impacts their safety, and the safety of their children, specifically in schools.
With great tragedy, comes great responsibility.
And I do believe that when bad things happen, good can come from it.
We as a community can either allow what happened define us, or redefine how the world sees us.
The definition of Perseverance is “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition”.
We must make PERSEVERANCE represent the letter “P” for Parkland.
If we don’t continue to move forward and push for change, whatever change that may be, we will have again failed our 17 and 17 – and their families too.
We owe it to them.
Lonny Anger is a “proud” Parkland resident and father of three children including his daughter who attends Marjory Stoneman Douglas. He is a licensed general contractor and owner of Merrick Industrial Management Corp, a commercial construction firm specializing in hospital and healthcare facilities interior renovation. Anger serves as vice president/media relations for Shine MSD, which was formed by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Students after the shooting to support victims’ families and healing the Parkland community through the arts. He also enjoys volunteering in the city as a baseball and flag football coach.
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