Imagine that you are Scot Peterson, 54, at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, north of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, and you’ve been the School Resource Officer at that school for 9 years, you know the teachers and students, you care about them, and you know a great deal about law enforcement; you’ve been doing it for 33 years; you’ve been honored for your valor as an officer.
You have just called in, at about 2:20 pm, that you were outside the school on the west side of the building, and a boy, Nikolas Cruz, 19, you knew from the school, is inside the school with a weapon that is firing rapidly.
You can only imagine the possible pain and suffering. You have four children yourself from your first marriage, and were re-married just last year. You know what this massacre means to these families.
You likely know that at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, 20 year old Adam Lanza, took his mother’s Bushmaster XM-15 rifle and fired 300 rounds, drawing upon 10 thirty-round large capacity magazines, and in four minutes, 154 bullets struck and killed 20 children between 6 and 7, and six educators.
You are not armed with a semi-automatic weapon as you crouch outside the school. You don’t know what armor the shooter has. You can’t be sure if the shooter is at the other end of the school, or know that he went to 5 class rooms on two floors executing innocents, or how much ammunition he had or has, or how powerful a weapon he has. You may have guessed he has an AR-15 from the sound, certainly he’s got at least a semi-automatic.
It didn’t feel like Valentine’s Day.
Not to Scot.
Nor to anyone else.
Felicia Burgin, a ninth grade English teacher, was locked in her classroom with students on the 2nd floor of the building as they heard shots from the floor above.
“There is no one that is going to tell you a negative thing about Deputy Peterson. He was an eagle and he was committed to our school. I don’t know what he could have done other than [have] literally died.”
A German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, asked long ago whether there was a transcendent form of justice when one denies self, sacrifices one’s personal interest, abnegates what is self, for the sake of others, out of compassion for another, while having nothing to gain from it personally.
Following the shooting, many have made a scapegoat of Scot, that he should have run into the building and likely added his life to the graves and cremations and suffering caused by this all too imaginable carnage.
Law, justice and punishment exist to deter individuals from the wrongful affirmation of another’s will. In that school, on that day, as has occurred all too frequently, law and justice were ignored. Nikolas affirmed his deathly will in violation of law and justice and killed in a bloody ballet of chance. No punishment imposed could ever cure or compensate the pain and suffering and lifelong loss he caused.
Was it an egoistic action for Scot to measure what he could do, what was possible, in that lawless situation? I think not. How many of his critics who cast this man Scot as a pariah, call him a coward, would have acted differently.
It may be said that others showed in a critical instant, an impulse of extraordinary moral worth, making little or distinction, not giving a thought, between the sanctity of their own person and of another.
Nikolas killed 14 Students and three faculty members, ranging in age from 14 to 49.
A popular coach and a geography teacher, Aaron Feis, sacrificed his life for a boy when Aaron stood in front of a classroom door.
Scott Bigel, a geography teacher, stopped to usher stragglers into his classroom, saving at least one boy; he was killed for his sacrifice
No can blame these victims or those who did only what they could and survived.
The wrongdoers we’ve learned from before and since this massacre see the world as a flock of lambs in an expansive field, jumping about in the eye of a butcher.
Unlike the lamb, we can take the butcher’s knife away.
Failing to do so is an expression of hate, not of love or compassion, and an evil act of will, nothing indifferent, in fact and truth, plainly immoral.
In a balance where we weigh protecting life and the proliferation of weapons of death, only a dystopic uncivilized, lawless society, could possibly choose the latter.
Our society is not serious about mental health, not when we call the ill “sickos.”
The snap shot that someone is well, and not worthy of commitment, and precisely that happened with Nikolas, he was found after a hearing not worthy of commitment, hardly protects us from combat weapons and the next inevitable mass killing.
The right criticism, the true cause, is and remains that we would let anyone have a combat weapon and large clips of ammunition and invite guns and shooting into our schools, and churches and restaurants.