Waseca: Lucky breaks, God’s intervention, or the degradation of our culture?

What if someone hadn’t seen John LaDue go into a storage locker and close the door behind him and think to herself, “that’s strange. I should call the cops?”

Would LaDue, as the charges against him suggest, have unleashed a Columbine-style attack on the people of Waseca, Minnesota, setting off small bombs in school and then picking kids off as they fled for perceived safety?

It fairly boggles the mind the extent to which one person in one spot at one moment was the difference between that safety and an unspeakable mass murder.

Or does it?

School superintendent Thomas Lee’s statement at yesterday’s press conference provided for plenty of thought and discussion on this question: Is it luck, or a higher power?

Today has been both a difficult and disturbing day, and a day of gratitude. Yet it is not a tragic day and that fact should be celebrated. The members of the Waseca Public Schools community are deeply saddened and disturbed at the arrest of one of our students.

The information that has been revealed in court documents indicates that we have escaped what could have been a horrific experience. We can either believe that this occurred as a result of a lucky break or, as I do, choose to believe that God was looking out for all of us. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of this student. I cannot imagine what they are going through at this time.

Concurrently, we are grateful for the person who called the police for what they believed to be “suspicious behavior”. Their willingness to be vigilant and to look out for the community should be commended by all. This is just another piece of evidence of what a wonderful community we have in Waseca.

People are truly looking out for one another. We are also grateful to the Waseca Police Department who kept the March investigation of the Hartley incident open and continued to track down all leads. We are thankful that the students of our schools and our citizens have been protected so well.

The most important thing that schools do is to assure the development and nurturing of strong relationships with students. The staff of Waseca Public Schools does an outstanding job at this. At the same time, we will re-double our efforts with every student to assure they know that we care about them and that they are valuable. We will support our students in every way possible. We will support each other as we all seek to understand these events.

I do ask you the press to please respect the rights of the family. They must be overwhelmed. Please give them the space they need to sort things out. I also ask that you respect the rights of students and not pester them just to obtain a story. They too need time and assistance to make meaning from these events.

While we are all somewhat shaken by what these recent events, we are resolved to finish this school year as normally as possible –for the sake of our students. Thank you for your understanding.

On another note I respectfully submit that these kind of events that have been happening in schools across this country should be a warning sign to us all. These events are like “canaries in the mines” – an indicator that something is deeply wrong in our culture. These kinds of events are unique to our American culture.

They are certainly not found anywhere else in the world, except in very few isolated cases. Why are they unique to our American culture? What is it in our culture that fosters these kind of events? There will be many opinions about this – our obsession with violence, our tv shows and movies, lack of parenting, the prevalence of guns, corporate greed and of course, gridlock in our government.

I suggest that these are all symptoms of a significantly degraded culture. We all know that nothing is guaranteed in this life but it is time that we collectively look into the mirror with honesty and integrity – that we ask ourselves how our choices are contributing to this degradation, and determine what we can do individually to stem the downward slide. We need to do everything possible to look out for one another – especially our kids.

Lee invites us to consider the work of God in averting disaster. If it is the work of God, how and when does he/she choose when to intervene and when to stay out of it? If God prevented tragedy in Waseca, why didn’t he/she look out for the people of Newtown, Connecticut?

Related: How the planned attack on a Waseca school impacts me personally (Minnesota Prairie Roots).