In the wake of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT, where 27 people (20 of them between the ages of 5 and 10) were killed, there is one prominent question. Why? Why did this happen? It seems that no one has any answers except the same old tried and truly failed, but they are easy to find if you look in the right place.
It is certain that there will be an immediate increase in the clamor over incidents of this nature. President Obama has said that there will be “meaningful action”; presumably he meant tighter and more restrictive gun control. Many other leaders have also joined in, with the consensus seeming to be that we can’t avoid talking about it anymore, but have to come to grips with the issue.
There will also be a renewed focus on the “mental” condition of the people who commit these types of criminal acts. We will probably be subjected to scores of “experts” who will expound their favorite theories as to why someone acts this way and what we must do to serve as a counterbalance to their unsocial behavior.
My guess is that the “culprits” in this act of violent barbarity will be these two strawmen. They are convenient and many people will use the emotion of the moment to try to get what they want from the situation. Besides, if we can make these the scapegoats, then we have no real incentive to explore the deeper causes of violent behavior. Oh, yes, there are deeper causes and we must face them squarely.
First, I predict there will be very little discussion about violent and murderous video games, television shows, and movies to which young men are subjected to from the very beginning of their lives. We will not talk about how someone growing up with digital murder finally decides to try it out in real life to see how it feels or to vent a lifetime of built-up rage. After all, there is no proof that playing with matches ever causes someone to light a forest fire or burn a house down. Besides, we all like to indulge. Don’t we?
Second, there will be no connection between this shooting and the undisputed fact that every year millions upon millions of small, helpless children under the age of nine months are legally killed before they are born. Some will protest that these are two completely separate issues and that it is unfair to even try to pair them. Violence is as violence does, however, and a young man who hears about women regularly ripping their unborn children out of their wombs might very well think that he should be excused if he joined in the carnage.
Third, there will be absolutely no mention made about the way that our young men and women go overseas into small towns and cities and slaughter hundreds and thousands of innocents. Absolutely none! If there is one sacred cow which cannot be sacrificed on the altar of Exceptional Americanism in the name of maintaining our lifestyle and making some people fantastically rich, it is our military, the most powerful killing machine in the history of the world. Why is it perfectly acceptable to shoot, bomb, and incinerate millions upon millions of innocents abroad, yet be completely repelled and outraged when it happens here?
America has become a violent place. Violence permeates every seam, nook, and cranny of our culture. It is everywhere and there is virtually no escape from it. We watch it on TV or the movie screen, play games with it on X-Box, practice it during abortions, promote it with our political views, cheer and applaud our military or the men and women who perform on WWE, and myriad other ways. We are America and we are violent. We love violence. We thrive on violence. We are to blame. We are all guilty. Our society is made up of individuals and a very large part of those individuals, a very large part indeed, are violent. It is time for us to admit that “we have met the enemy and he is us.”
What are solutions to prevent school shootings like this one? Longer prison terms for violent offenders? Tighter restrictions on gun ownership? Turning legitimate gun owners into pariahs and criminals? Blaming someone’s mental condition because he broke? Blaming society? These will probably be tried and will not work any better than they did in the past. What, then? I can think of three answers, one which will be rejected outright, one which is actually happening now behind the scenes, and one which must happen but will be resisted as long as possible. Respectively, they are:
This will go nowhere. Every school district in the country ought to purchase a high-powered, high-quality pistol for all of its teachers and administration, teach them how to use the firearms, and require them to be carried while on school property. They ought to issue body armor for all their personnel. Armed, trained, and ready educators could have easily shot this young man right at the start and eliminated virtually all of the heartache he caused. Instead they cowered in closets and under desks. It would have been so easy. It will not happen.
The one solution which has some legs would be for parents to realize that the government can’t protect their children any better than they can educate them. Parents should take the initiative in this and immediately pull their children out of these “indoctrination centers” and put the responsibility for the education of their children squarely where it belongs—on their own shoulders. There is serious movement in this direction.
What must be done is to admit as a nation that we have failed, that we have sinned before God Almighty, and that we need to make a change of direction away from the appalling nightmare we are in. We need to start, as a nation and society, to become outraged by violence, any kind of violence, and start demanding that perpetrators, whoever they might be, are severely punished. We need to start asking forgiveness from God and allow His Holy Spirit to begin working in our own hearts, our hearts first of all, and then those of the people around us. We need to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace and that we must submit our murderous desires to His rule in every area of our lives. This, too, will not happen, at least on an official level, but it should. There is no better answer.