To the Editor,

Most days, I am proud to call myself a Texan. Today is not one of those days.

When I heard about the latest school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, I, like some of the students interviewed, was deeply saddened, but not surprised.

My heart goes out to overworked teachers, of whom we demand so much already with such little compensation; we have now added gun violence to their overloaded plates, along with overcrowded classrooms and insufficient resources.

My heart goes out to parents, who see the number of these incidents steadily climbing with no end in sight and worry, “What about my child?” On September 11, 2001, I was in elementary school when the towers fell. My mom called my dad wanting to know if she should pick me up from school, but his answer came with quick assurance: “No; the school is the safest place she can be.” Would this answer hold true today? Probably not.

Most of all, my heart goes out to students, who must do their best to learn in a climate of fear and uncertainty. For me, going to school was one of the greatest privileges I had growing up. I cannot imagine any adult having the audacity to overlook my safety and taking those treasured experiences away from me.

Clearly, prayer without action is not getting the job done, despite what some elected officials would like to believe. Even the Bible tells us this is an unrealistic expectation. In James 2:17 (NIV), we read, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” Perhaps we should try putting our prayers into practice.

I stated above, quite pessimistically, that there is no end in sight. But there could be an end. That choice is well within our power, and the power of our representatives, to make. It is up to us to hold them accountable. Call. Email. Text the word “resist” to 50409 for heaven’s sake. Need a talking point? Ask about the Dickey Amendment, which does not allow funding from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to go toward gun violence research. Or ask about mental health resources for students facing challenges that move them to pick up guns in frustration. Learn about current guidelines for purchasing weapons and how they could be improved. No matter your views, you have the power to make a difference!

One day, I know will be proud to call Texas home again. But today is not that day.

Best,

Kendall Burks, Waxahachie High School ‘13, Rice University ‘17, MD/PhD Candidate, Washington University in St. Louis