Children in Fear
By Hal Lindsey
On Sunday, August 4th, America had just experienced two mass shootings in a matter of hours. At that moment, one of the most politically correct men in America tweeted something he would quickly regret. Neil deGrasse Tyson, well-known atheist and science popularizer tweeted, “In the past 48hrs, the USA horrifically lost 34 people to mass shootings. On average, across any 48hrs, we also lose… 500 to Medical errors, 300 to the Flu, 250 to Suicide, 200 to Car Accidents, 40 to Homicide via Handgun. Often our emotions respond more to spectacle than to data.”
He overstated the El Paso and Dayton death tolls saying 34 died when the actual number was 22. But that’s not what outraged his Twitter followers. They were angered because they felt he had downplayed the shootings. One person wrote, “This is the most heartless tweet in the history of social media.” Later, Tyson apologized, saying, “I got this wrong.”
Dr. Tyson and I are polar opposites on most issues. But I agree with him on several things here. First, I agree that he got it wrong — not the words or data, but the timing. He said the truth, but he said it too soon. He sent out the tweet while Americans still sat in shock, watching the aftermath of the horror on their television screens.
But even though I think he said it at the wrong time, I agree that it should at some point be said. In fact, it’s crucial. Here’s why. We’re needlessly terrorizing our children.
It’s hard enough for an adult to realize America’s size. A child cannot understand how extremely unlikely it is that he or she might be shot at school, or while shopping at the mall. Even adults have a tough time picturing how many millions of people went to Walmart over the last month, in complete safety. For children, the numbers are unfathomable. But they instantly relate to shock, horror, and terror. They may not understand the whys and hows, but they pick up on fear. And adults are afraid.
On August 7th, a motorcycle backfired in Times Square. People thought it was an active shooter. The ensuing panic resulted in several injuries. Since the El Paso and Dayton shootings, there have been similar events all over the country.
In Lubbock, Texas, someone at the Social Security Administration offices saw a person park a car in the employee parking lot, then run away. They called police and evacuated the building. Homeland Security showed up. It turned out that the person was simply late for a job interview and that’s why he ran when he left the car. In times past, it would have been no big deal. But these days Americans are on edge.
Children already live in fear. Many of them can no longer play in their own front yards. More and more wear armor plated backpacks at school. A child is far more likely to die in a traffic accident on the way to school than to be killed by a gunman while at school. But traffic deaths don’t result in wall-to-wall media coverage.
We must teach our children to respect danger, but not live in fear. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Even in perilous times, we need to know and to teach our young the wonderful truth of Psalms 121:2. “My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” When the Maker of heaven and earth has promised to help you, fear loses its awful grip.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, pray for the children. When you encounter them, be reassuring and kind. Families and churches should not make a child’s entertainment their primary goal. Instead, we must teach kids about the love of God, and His faithfulness to all who put their trust in Him. Teach them that heaven is real, but that God’s provision and care starts here on earth. Above all, we must consistently express our own confidence in the Lord and our love for Him.