This is not my regular post for this week but the events of the week demand that I put something down.
There was another shooting on a college campus this week. A young man, for reasons unknown, went into a large classroom and began shooting. I am glad to know that we are shocked and outraged by this senseless act of violence but, as I wrote after the Virginia Tech shootings last spring (“It Happened Again”),
“why it is so much different when thirty-three people die in a college town in this country as opposed to any number of deaths in Iraq or Darfur or anywhere else. Is it because violence in other countries, the death of young people elsewhere in the world, has no meaning to us? Is violence so much a part of our lives that we can ignore it unless it comes in big numbers?”
Of course, there were only six killed this time,so perhaps we should be grateful. But there were five other shootings on campuses across this nation last week, including one at a high school in my home town of Memphis. Perhaps we are shocked when the killings happen on a college campus and not when they happen on a high school campus because we have written off what happens at high schools in this country.
Or we are shocked when it happens in communities where we do not believe violence exists (see “What Do We Say?”).
One good note can be written; we still speak of college campuses as idyllic and peaceful. There is still somewhere in this nation where we think peace is alive and well.
But now we seek someone to blame. We will blame the shooter because that is the easiest thing to do. But we do not know what caused him to do this. He was an exemplary scholar in high school and as a college undergraduate. He does not seem to have been a product of the ghetto or a seemingly broken home. So the reason must lie elsewhere.
We could blame the NRA for their single-minded attitude against reasonable gun control laws. But the guns the shooter used were legally purchased.
We could blame the medical community. It appears that this young man was on medication and apparently stopped taking it. So we could blame the medical community for prescribing medications that complicated a life, not saved it.
We could continue seeking someone or some group on whom we could post the blame. Surely one of the myriad groups that are part of this society is the reason why this young man did what he did. But what would we gain by doing that? It is highly unlikely that this young man, despite his wisdom and intelligence, would have probably known of many of the groups that we could have blamed.
And when we have found the one group upon whom we can fix the blame this time, we then have to figure out how to connect that group to the other shootings that occurred this week.
And then we need to come up with a solution. We can say that the solution lies in letting those who own guns carry them into the classroom. That will serve as the necessary deterrent. But others have echoed what I wrote last April (“It Happened Again – Part 2″) when someone made the same suggestion,
Are we to assume that this unknown self-proclaimed defender has the ability to use his or her weapon in the proper manner? Are we to assume that a response with a handgun to some shooting will not become a “fire fight” which endangers more innocent bystanders? Let’s not even go there; that is a path that can lead no where.
Violence as the response to violence will never work. It will only lead to more violence.
It is time that we look at ourselves and remember what Cassius told his friend Brutus, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars, but in ourselves. . . ” (Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140 – 141)). Perhaps it is what we have allowed society to become that is the reason why violence is so dominant in our lives and why we seek violence as the answer to our problems.
We have a disagreement as a country with another country so we go to war. We dislike what those who oppose our political favorites say and do, so we respond with attack ads. We fill this ads with vitriol and venom; we come as close to slander as is legally possible; we question the motives of our opponents and threaten their character and their loyalty.
We have changed the games of our youth into businesses where winning is the only thing and how you achieve victory is not to be questioned. We fought in the 1960′s to bring equality into society but now we have forgotten, if we ever learned, what equality means. Sexism and racism are still a part of this society and instead of moving away from these plagues on society, it seems we are moving closer.
There are some who are going to rejoice at my words, for these words only prove that these are, in fact, the “End Times.” But those who proclaim such finality to society only sit back and watch; they do not work to stop what is happening in this world. I cannot accept the concept that God would send His Son to die on the Cross to save us from our sins and then renege on the promise of hope that comes from that Ultimate Sacrifice.
God sent His Son to save us, not condemn us. We have been asked to continue the work that began two thousand years ago in the hills of Galilee. If for no other reason, we need to answer God’s call today and speak out against the violence, speak out against the racism and sexism that exists, speak out against the repression that occurs. We need to begin doing what Jesus said was His mission, to feed the hungry, heal the sick, clothe the naked, find houses for the homeless, and bring hope to the oppressed. It will not happen overnight but if we began now, we can change the nature and direction of society. We can bring an end to the violence and destruction that we see; we can make the prophecy of Isaiah and Micah true,
“For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Is. 2:3-4 & Micah 4:2-3)
God has chosen this moment to call us. What shall you say?