"If a bully keeps taunting you, just haul off and let 'em have it."
"You can't really make friends with that boy until you whip him, show him you can't be messed with."
"Try to reason, but if reasoning doesn't work, just pop him in the nose a few times."
Familiar advice, isn't it? It seems reasonable, and even normal, and it works--some of the time. But what about the times when it doesn't, when a good old fistfight, or even little pop on the nose drops the other child dead. "Unlikely," you might say.
Granted. But it happens.
Last week in our town a couple of junior-high aged boys got into a little scuffle after church on Wednesday night. It was over very quickly. One was dead and the other was saddled with the irrevocable knowledge that he had killed another human being.
The funeral is today, in a couple of minutes, up at the school auditorium where the cars are settling over every available space and grade school children are learning that death is close, and that every human death is somber and inflicts a curious pain.
People are looking for someone to blame:
"The church wasn't supervising carefully enough; the carpet covering the floor wasn't thick enough; the youth pastor should have been teaching those kids right from wrong; the parents should have been there, instead of just sending their children alone; the other kids should have intervened."
Yes. The list goes on and on. There will probably be lawsuits and recriminatory remarks for a long time. But none of them are really just.
Boys fight sometimes. No matter what you teach them in church, at school, at home.
You cannot always supervise...be everywhere...see everything.
It was all "over" in a few seconds.
But it will never be "over" now.
So, what are you going to tell your son?