Finding hope in fear – A Game of American Roulette.

November 10, 2016

The School Resource Officer knew who he was looking for. In some schools, this would be a regular occurrence. But not here. Not in Edmond, Oklahoma. He stopped the boy and searched his backpack. He found what he was looking for. A handgun. The gun was unloaded. A further search found the bullets and a bag of weed.

This happened at Santa Fe High School. The school that my nephew, Cameron, attends. When my sister shared the news on Facebook, my brain did what it always does. It played a game of ‘What if’?

  • What if someone hadn’t tipped off the authorities?
  • What if the School Resource Officer didn’t find the 15-year-old boy?
  • What if he’d discharged the firearm?
  • What if Cameron had been in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Those are unhealthy thoughts. Those scenarios didn’t play out. Cameron is safe, and, on this occasion – the system worked. It protected the students.

Nobody knows the kids intent, but memories of America’s school shootings flooded back. And one, in particular, came to mind. Sandy Hook.

I remember Sandy Hook for the 28 lives lost and for President Obama’s impassioned, tear-filled reaction. What came through from his live address was a complete sense of helplessness. The man whose Presidential campaign was built on ‘Change’ could not influence and direct the one change he wanted. Tougher gun controls. In a battle versus lobbyists, Congress, the NRA (National Rifle Association), the 2nd amendment and American culture – the President lost.

What If - becomes reality

The incident at Santa Fe High School happened on the day that the entire World was playing a game of ‘What If’. What if Donald Trump was the 45th President of the United States of America?

And, in that game, the outlook was, for many, just as terrifying. But, for most it was unimaginable. It was the joke that kept on giving. It would have to end. Surely. Reality would kick in. An entire nation would come to its senses. And, we’d all breathe a huge sigh of relief.

We all know the reality. We know what happened. I checked the progress at 3.30am. Then 4.30am. Finally, at 5.40am, I had to get up. I had to see this with my own eyes. I joined friends on Facebook. I had my say. I expressed my fear. I shared my horror. “Why did this happen?” “How did this happen?” What does this mean for the World? What does this mean for my sister and her family?”

I’m a great believer that we need to live our own lives. That we need to focus on what we can influence. What we can control. But, in this historic moment – I couldn’t help it. I was drawn in. It consumed so much of my thoughts. I was angry. I was scared.

Ironic Hope

The brain is a wonderful thing. It’s constantly looking for connections. It’s looking to understand. It’s looking for ways to make the irrational, rational. And that’s where I found hope.

If Obama couldn’t get his way and enforce tougher gun controls, Trump won’t be able to make good on his frightening campaign promises.

There will be NO wall.
There WON’T be a ban on Muslims entering the country.
There will be NO prosecution of Clinton.
And – he WON’T get rid of Gun Free zones around schools on his first day in office.

Why? Because he can’t. He’s the President. The President is not above the law. The same force that stopped Obama achieving many of his political goals is what will stop Trump in his tracks. Those promises will be seen for what they are – components of one of the most brilliantly executed marketing campaigns of all time.

He tapped into fear. He said what large swathes of the disenfranchised population wanted to hear. He played to the underlying racism that sadly still prevails in large parts of America. He talked to people who had never voted. He sold a dream. He sold hope. He sold promises he can’t keep.

It’s often said that the USA doesn’t collectively get the concept of ‘irony’. While sweeping generalisations are fun, I don’t personally believe this. It’s insulting to most Americans I know. But for those that don’t get irony they are about to get a first-hand lesson. The same people that voted for Trump on the basis that he WASN’T a politician will turn against him when he becomes one. When promises become lies – the trust that his raving fans had for him will be lost. And in that process, a lot of people will feel very silly. The people who rejoiced and chanted ‘Lock Her Up’ as victory was confirmed – will turn on Trump.

The Un-dodged Bullet

America and the World hoped to dodge a bullet. They didn’t. It hit. And, it hit hard. The bulletproof vest of reason, logic, and good old-fashioned common sense didn’t work. It couldn’t stop the unstoppable. Kevlar is no match for ‘The Donald’.

In the short-term, this is going to be painful. Donald will try to moderate his tone, but he’ll still say the unthinkable. His hair will continue to baffle the World. He’ll continue to be a source of national embarrassment. The nation will be more divided than ever. And, sadly, yes, there will be more school shootings.

But the World will keep spinning. Life will go on, and I believe this moment, will eventually unite the USA and the wider World. I believe history will show this to be a defining moment not just forAmerican politics. This is the moment that ‘Change’ won’t be a campaign slogan, but a natural consequence of what we’ve just lived through.

Because I choose hope over fear. I choose love, not hate. I choose people, over politicians. I choose to believe in a better way and in a brighter future.


You can read a news article about the incident at Santa Fe High School here.

About the Author

Kev Anderson

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