Killing and the Question

Within the space of one week, there have been three mass shootings (see here, here, and here) across the United States which have killed more than 30 people and left many more wounded. Shootings like these are a shock to our system, which relies on trust and cooperation in order to function. After all, if you can’t go to a Garlic Festival or a Walmart without worrying about being shot, then there is no place which is safe.

Many people will be clamoring to strengthen and rewrite existing gun laws, with the professed intention of bringing this irrational violence to an end. Will this work? If history is any guide, probably not. Anyway, the argument over guns is a strawman which will have little or no effect on the violence which is playing out in our country and around the world.

People are killed in mass shootings, aggressive wars, the deliberate driving of trucks or delivery vans into crowds at an outdoor cafe, stabbings, gang warfare, police brutality, drug related murders, and abortion on demand, which killed over 600, 000 innocent unborn children last year in the US alone. All of these (and more) have one thing in common–the complete and utter lack of respect and honor for human life.

Jacob Hornberger has attempted to identify a cause of the violence we are learning to live with. His theory is that the war mentality America has inculcated in her citizens over the years is coming home to roost.

“I believe that America’s forever wars, sanctions, embargoes, and assassinations overseas are triggering some sort of mechanism within the minds of people who are bit off kilter mentally, which is causing them to wreak the same sort of violent and deadly mayhem here at home that the U.S. government, specifically the Pentagon and the CIA, is wreaking in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.”

Hornberger may be right, but he doesn’t go far enough.

Violence and the use of deadly force is as American as apple pie. It is endemic in our culture. It has been part of America from the very beginning. For those who are doing the slaughtering, human life is worthless. The sanctity of human life means nothing. It spans the spectrum of society from the streets of Chicago to the killing rooms of Planned Parenthood to the callous attitude of Madeline Albright, who, when asked about 500,000 dead Iraqi children as a result of crippling sanctions imposed by then-president Bill Clinton, responded that she thought the price was worth it. Throw in video games, psychotropic drugs, the Hollywood effect, and many other contributing factors and it’s no surprise that we are seeing individuals randomly acting this way.

The killing (in whatever form it takes) will not stop unless and until we grasp the concept that human life is precious, priceless, and not to be held in contempt. Human life, from the very beginning to the very end, must become something which is esteemed and valued. The lack of respect for it is a primary cause of all killings and, if we are ever going to bring this senseless violence to an end, we must absorb and live the understanding that human life is too valuable to simply destroy.

It won’t do any good to pass more laws or to increase the penalties. Giving the government more power will not help. This is a heart attitude and must be changed there, at the individual level, within the conscience of what is right and what is wrong. It has to begin with me. It has to begin with you.