She said no.

I just read a news story about an 11-year-old boy who killed an eight-year-old neighbor girl because she said no.

She didn’t say no about sex. It wasn’t over something so charged with emotion as sex.

It was over a puppy.

He wanted to see her new puppy and she refused. So he went inside his house and picked up a gun and shot her.

It is so easy to say that this is a matter of a parent not locking up their guns. He was easily able to open up the closet door, pull out a shotgun and shoot this girl in the chest, killing her instantly. That is certainly an issue. But more than gun-control, we need to have people control. How have we gotten to the point where young boys feel that the way to deal with rejection is to kill? How have we gotten to the point where being told “no” means someone has to die?

It is to the point where we really shouldn’t be afraid of Muslim men with guns. What we need to be afraid of are young white boys with guns. They are responsible for far more murders in America these days than anyone else.

This has nothing to do with “America being a Godless nation” as some commentators say. You don’t need religion to know you should not kill someone.

Perhaps violent videogames are to blame. Perhaps neglectful parenting is to blame. Perhaps this kid (and all the other ones, too many to name) were left alone for too long, ignored, left to fend for themselves, unguided, unwanted. Perhaps it is all of this, and more. Whatever the reason(s), we as a nation need to figure it out soon, because too many deaths have already occurred.

I feel the root of this particular murder is the word “no” – and how he handled it.

If he didn’t kill her over this, it is entirely possible that he would grow up to assault or rape a different woman who told him “no”. Is this what our society has come to, where women cannot say “no” for fear of being harmed? Is this what our society has come to, where men can’t hear the word “no” without causing harm?

There was no way to predict that this would have happened. He asked to see her puppy. She said no. So he killed her. Something doesn’t add up. This equation does not lead logically from one step to another. And that is the problem. We say we want to stop gun violence, but deep down if we are being honest we really just want to not be the victim of gun violence. It has become random, uncertain, chaotic. Anyone can be a victim.

Long gone are the days where attacks follow a logical pattern. Someone was abused for years and kills his abuser. Someone was in a “bad” part of town and got mugged. Someone got into a fight and got shot.

These days, just going to school can be dangerous. Just going to the movies can get you murdered. There is no logic to it. All the victims are innocent. Often they aren’t even known by their murderer.

Why are there too many guns and not enough parents teaching their children right from wrong? Sometimes it isn’t even as easy or simple as that. Sometimes the parents need a few lessons themselves. Often the parents are less than stable. Giving birth does not suddenly improve intelligence or aptitude. It isn’t a surprise when their kids go off the deep end.

Stronger gun laws will only result in a greater imbalance. More “bad” people will have guns. They don’t obey laws anyway, so gun laws will benefit them and harm everyone else. It is too late to regulate guns – there are too many out there. What we need is to regulate people.

We need to teach our children from an early age how to handle loss, rejection, and pain. We need to teach them how to deal with their feelings, good and bad. We need to teach them how to be with other people in healthy ways, ways that are life-affirming. We need to teach people how to have dialogue versus having debate. We need to teach people about many other cultures and ways of thinking, so they learn there are many ways of seeing and understanding.

Do you stay or do you go?

It is easy to stay in a job, a friendship, a marriage when things are good. But it isn’t always good. What do you do then? Do you stay or do you go?

There are different ways of going other than actually leaving. You can stop participating. You can “go along to get along”.

You can write out your rebuttal and then say at the end that no reply is expected, and even if there is a reply it won’t be read.

That too is leaving, that too is running away.

But how do you stay? Staying is hard. It is being willing to listen to the other person. It is being willing to engage in dialogue.

Nobody likes a fight. Nobody likes to disagree. I’ve heard some people say that they are “conflict adverse”. Of course they are. Normal people don’t seek out arguments.

But arguments happen all the time. We see things differently. We like to be right. When someone speaks their mind and it differs from your mind, what happens then?

That is “where the rubber meets the road”. That is where things get real.

Do you stay, or do you go?

In part, it depends on your investment in the situation. Can you afford to leave? How much time and energy have you put into this relationship?

It is ok to cut out. It is ok to leave. It isn’t ok to do that all the time. If you make a habit of leaving when things get hard, when things get real, then you’re making a habit of leaving.

A life filled with leaving isn’t really a life.

Stay. Stay with it when it gets hard. Stay with it, because staying with it is all that stands between you and anonymity. Stay with it because to always leave is to disappear, to dissolve.