The day after Memorial Day, I woke up with a little boy on my mind.

Though I’d never met 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez, the image of his bright eyes and toothless smile will forever pierce my heart. I will never forget one picture of him shared on Facebook. He was wearing a Batman backpack on his small frame; his arms were folded. The caption read: “Why didn’t you just love him, instead?” Lucas, whose body allegedly was covered with bruises on several occasions, recently was found dead under a bridge near Wichita.

His tragic story has been picked up by news outlets across the country. Social media has been sharing his picture and details of his disappearance and alleged tortuous life for weeks. So, why is it then, this little boy’s bruises and plight suddenly have become so important to everyone? Because we assume his death was the result of a heinous act, we find ourselves asking the question: How has it come to this?

The answer is in plain sight, but it’s an answer many will reject.

Thoughts of Lucas led my mind to the recent school shootings and the scrambling of politicians and parents to ban guns and secure schools. From there, I pondered the fact that sex-trafficking of children accounts for more than half of the millions of human beings sold for sex each year. Wrap your head around that for a moment: Children being sold for sex. As if there isn’t enough free sex in this shades of gray, anything goes, society we live in. The blatant truth most do not want to admit is that our country and majority of its citizens have failed our children through godless behavior, and it’s showing. If indeed, Lucas’ life was snuffed out by the actions of another person, perhaps, in some way, we should all claim some responsibility for his tragic death, which I believe stems from the cold-hearted act of legalized abortion.

Even though President Trump is currently the most pro-life president to date and Kansas has made attempts to restrict abortions, too many citizens still furiously fight for the right to kill unborn babies at all stages of pregnancy, and this heinous truth serves to dehumanize life. We’d have to be pretty cold-hearted to ignore the horrific truth presented in the images of babies dismembered through abortion, yet through continued legalized abortion, the U.S. shouts to the world: Human life is dispensable. We have the right to destroy life when we choose to do so.

Recently, Ireland made the news with a landslide vote to remove its abortion restrictions — and why shouldn’t they, when the good ol’ U-S of A, also a supposed Christian nation, is still doing it? Surely hypocrisy is one of the reasons that other countries have so little respect for us. At one point, the world failed to consider slaves as human. Hitler failed to see Jews and others he felt were inferior as human. We all believe this is appalling, but at what point in history are we going to get it right?

Many will disagree with me and say guns are the reason for the increased violence, but guns have been around for centuries. Kids and schools never have been the target of gun violence until the 20th century. When I was in high school, students brought rifles to school in the back of their trucks. No one worried about them going on a shooting rampage. Blaming the gun in a shooting is like blaming the car in a drunk-driving accident. Guns are not the problem; the heart of man is the problem.

In 1968, Pope Paul VI wrote the encyclical, Humanae Vitae, in which he predicted four things that would come with the acceptance of birth control, and sadly, many use abortion as a method of birth control: 1. Infidelity and moral decline. (I don’t think any clear-thinking person could deny this one.) 2. Loss of respect for women. (To the point of “considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment and no longer as his respected and beloved companions.”) 3. Abuse of power. (Forced sterilization and abortion for women in China. Immunizations covertly laced with sterilization drugs in Kenya) 4. Unlimited Dominion (man starts to believe he has unlimited dominion over his own body — e.g. altering/mutilating our bodies, test-tube babies, euthanasia.)

Looks like his prophesy was spot on.

Our country just honored the memory of those who died to keep us free. We pride ourselves on freedom, but we sure appear bound to me. Our children no longer feel safe in school, in their own yards, at church. Many people feel unsafe using public transportation, going to the movies or any outdoor event — anywhere. The rate of suicide has been steadily increasing overall, and recently, a CBS news article reported abortion is tied to a sharp decline in women’s mental health.

We, the people, have created/allowed a culture of death by killing our children in the womb or through our apathy toward this act and other injustices. Until we are willing to dig deeper and open our eyes to the real cause of all the violence, which is the lack of godliness, our culture will continue to kill — with knives, bombs, airplanes, pressure-cookers, abortion and chemicals. All the plans for protection from violence will never do as much as repentant hearts.

And to Lucas: I know you are in the arms of Jesus now, and for that, I am so grateful. I am sorry that you suffered in this world so tragically. I am sorry for those who may have averted their eyes or didn’t want to get involved. I am sorry you were born in a time and country where the people refused or failed to stand up against violence toward babies in the womb, and therefore, diminished the worth of human life. You were a blessing to this world and your life made a huge, positive impact. Please forgive us for not hearing your voice in time to save you. Pray for us, that God may forgive us, we may forgive ourselves, and fight even harder to protect and respect life at all ages.

Elizabeth Schmeidler is a

Christian author from Hays.