I have remained unusually quiet these past few weeks in response to the shootings in Aurora, Oregon and Connecticut. The reasons are two-fold. One, my own suffering with my health has made it difficult to respond to much of anything. My time on the social media and blogosphere is way down as I battle daily pain and mental fogginess.
But that is no excuse for disregarding the pain of others. I confess I can have that tendency sometimes. I am not proud of this fact about myself and it is something I must keep working on.
However, the main reason is that my initial and still very strong reaction is one of anger and heavy controversy. I debated for weeks on whether I should put this out there, knowing it might cause some to be offended. But if I don’t say what I believe to be the truth, what culpability then is mine?
And if you are one who is easily offended, just know that I am not forcing you to read further.
Obviously we have a problem here. The frequency of these shooting binges is rapidly increasing. What is being done about it? Why are there that many killers who snap like this? Were not innocent adults in a movie theatre bad enough? Must we go after children now?
You can bank on the fact that within five minutes of any of these types of shootings the cry for gun control rings out. And it is tragedies like these that sharpen people’s opinion in that direction. While I’m not a fan of guns, I recognize that the problem is not the tool itself. A gun does not make a killer more likely to kill. A gun makes a killer more ABLE to kill, yes. A gun death is a quicker, easier death than a machete death, but if you remove the gun, you have not solved the problem. The killer still exists and he will find a way to kill, whether he acquires a gun illegally or utilize some other weapon.
The second solution being proposed is to put our society into a police state. After tragedies like this, it amazes me how quickly so many are willing to blindly trade in their freedoms for a little sense of security. Sure, I don’t mind extra long lines and pat downs in order to get into my local McDonalds, as long as I’m safe, right?
The problem is, for some of these murderers, their stated goal is to erode our freedoms. And when we capitulate in order to protect against them, we have lost twice as a society. And as we have observed, the more rules we put on OURSELVES in the name of “protection” the more these murderers work around these rules to commit their crimes, which inevitably leads to more rules placed on US.
In both of these knee-jerk solutions, we have not dealt with the core issue. We have not stopped the creation of these killers.
Violence has always existed. It is at the core of humanity. We look at fifty years ago as a bucolic time in America, but we tend to gloss over the lynch killings in the South, done in the name of justice and righteousness. The problem is that as a society, we have allowed moral relativism to blur the lines between right and wrong. We all have dark fantasies that creep up into our minds from time to time. It is called our sin nature. Most of us are quick to rid ourselves of them when they occur.
These young killers did not wake up one day and say, “Huh. I think I want to kill children today.” Getting to this point of depravity takes time. It is a slow indulgence into their dark fantasies that fosters over time. I do not believe for a moment that the Sandy Hook killer was just mental and therefore he somehow couldn’t help himself. No, whether the theatre shooter or the elementary school shooter or whomever, they made a calculated and deliberate decision to look a soul in its eye and remove its life. Perhaps by the time they had arrived at that murderous moment, there was an element of removal, as I suspect there would have to be in order to do this kind of horrific thing. However, getting to that point was a daily decision to not put to death their murderous fantasies, but to engage them instead.
The problem is that today’s society makes indulging in these dark fantasies much easier than it used to be. I may sound fuddy-duddy, but I point my fingers first at the entertainment industry. We have video games that glorify violence through hyper-realistic graphics, allowing players to become the mass murderers of their delusions. Instead of putting to bed these dark desires, we cultivate them through these games. The step from being a murderer in a fantasy world to becoming one in reality, then, becomes smaller.
Now I know the gaming community will scream foul at the last paragraph, as I have heard them try and defend themselves after all of these tragedies. I’m not saying ban video games. Angry Birds is not going to make people want to go out and kill pigs. There are certainly gray areas on this issue, but I am never shocked when we read the profiles of these killers to find that they played violent video games. There is a realm where it is too far, and I do not think it’s that hard to figure out. The problem is, nobody has the guts to stand up and say, no, this is immoral. As a gamer, do you have the moral fortitude to draw your own lines? If not, why not?
And I don’t want to just pick on gamers. The glorification of violence is everywhere. It’s in our movies, it’s in our books. I never saw the “Saw” movies, but after reading the description, I could not understand how they could be so popular. Why would anybody want to take their mind to that place?
We have allowed post modernism to tell us that there is no such thing as an absolute right and wrong. After 50 some years of preaching this, we wonder why we suddenly have teenagers that see nothing wrong with killing people point blank. We have an entire party that won an election based on an idea that killing unborn children should be a right, and then we scratch our heads when one kills children five years out of the womb.
This is controversial, yes, but do we want to solve this problem or not? Do we want a prison society filled with killers or do we want to finally address the issue of the human heart?
Ultimately, we are a land that has turned against its Creator. Any society that has done so in the past has seen the consequences. I do not advocate that government should do anything about this. On the contrary, government should back off and let the church work. Love needs to be our motto. Truth needs to be our banner. We need to reach the hearts of the individual with the amazing Good News of Jesus Christ. He alone can save us from our darkness. It starts with Him. But the decision rests with me and you.
Post Script: In all of this, it’s easy to arm chair quarterback, but the fact remains, there are people hurting today and we must not forget this fact. My heart breaks for those families and my prayers go out to them, especially as we approach the Christmas holiday. I cannot know or imagine their pain and fear. Lord, cover them with your Mercies today, shower love upon that community. May we rise up as a Body of Believers in love for our fellow man.