Signs are the substance of reality. Jesus knew that. In the book of Matthew, his famous statement about the signs of the Times is there for all to see. Unfortunately what he meant was not that he would return and gather up the faithful and have done with nastiness. This is a fantasy of religion.

The underlying truth is that we have more intuition packed into us than we are willing to admit.Intuition enables us to see behind words and perceive the signs that are the substance of reality. That's not exactly how it is though. I'll explain.

Words as signs

We live by words. But sometimes words themselves are signs of something well beyond what they say. Other times they are exact signs that only a dunderhead could miss. When someone writes that he wants to be a pro-school shooter, what is that a sign of? It is a sign that you immediately indicate to the speaker that if this is what he intends, you will do everything in your power to prevent him from fulfilling his threat.

This logic applies to all intentions regarding harm, to all threats, to every valid sign of hostility.

All of us are capable of hostility that would be embarrassing to reveal. That is par for the course. Some of us are inclined to serious acting out. When that gets voiced within the hearing of someone with ears to hear, the proper response is to voice an intention to restrain.

Sometimes the mere fact of such a rejoinder is all that is needed to set the potential killer or suicide on the straight and narrow

Timely action

I have a nephew who is now a good citizen lawyer. When he was young we took him in and at one time he indulged in suicide talk.I responded that if he continued in that vein I would do everything I could to see that he was kept from harming himself.I had no power to do anything.

But I was speaking from the heart out of a conviction that whether he was serious or not he needed to be taken seriously. He stopped the talk.I noted a change.

As a society, we see signs all the time. Some see signs and exaggerate dangers. Others miss obvious signs. A sign is anything that refers to something that is different than what is said.

If someone threatens violence to self or others, you do not see someone talking, you see the result of the talk. The sign points to disaster.

We have first responders to all sorts of things, but none for school shooters. These people broadcast their intentions. We freeze

Some don't

We should put people to work as sign readers.

People who comb utterances for signs. Yes, I know, we could develop a society of alarmists. I don't think that is as dangerous as letting the clear reality of early warnings continue to be ignored.