In the past few weeks, we have seen two mass casualty events that have garnered national attention: a shooting at a Tops Grocery Store in Buffalo, New York and at a grade school in Uvalde, Texas.
These things rightfully sadden us, frighten us, enrage us, and confuse us.
Unfortunately, these were far from the only violent acts to happen. With the murder rate climbing more than 30 percent since 2020, the body count climbs every day.
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We want answers and we want solutions. Most of all, we want someone or something to blame.
The last two mass shootings have sought blame in racism, guns, immigration, mental illness, and other topics. We want something or someone to blame because maybe we can improve legislation to keep it from happening again.
Since Columbine, we have tried that over and over again. No law seems to stop it. It provokes a rage-inducing helplessness and a fear of an ever-present danger lurking.
Our hearts ache for the victims and their loved ones.
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I thought last night about how many of those parents look at their child’s empty bed, how many siblings who might have shared a room being unable to enter their own bedroom for fear and sorrow, the spouses of the teachers looking at the empty side of the bed, the parents and grandparents weeping over pictures of their beloves children and grandchildren.
These things break our hearts and scream to the heavens for vengeance.
The unsettling thing is that we can prepare for such things (and we should) and take the necessary precautions we need to; but as to stopping these from ever happening…it’s not going to solved solely by new laws. Were we able to do this, our prisons would be empty and law enforcement unnecessary.
Mass casualty events (mass shootings are an example) rattle us. The locations they happen (schools, universities, movie theaters, parks, churches, grocery stores) reach into our everyday life. It leaves us vulnerable.
So, what do we do about it?
Doing nothing is an insane option. Believing we can legislate ourselves out it is also insane. We cannot let society be defined by the anomalies. That turns us into a futile police state.
I wish I had easy answers. I don’t.
For me, it is sane protection and trying to address the underlying issues that lead up to such events. Mental health come into play here.
Part of it is going to very unpopular conversations that no one wants to have: the acceptance of violence as an answer to what ails us (permeates how we entertain ourselves), how the culture of death in its many forms helps in contributing to the undervaluing of human life, how we take care of those with mental illness, how do we keep any weapon, let alone guns, out of the possession of disturbed individuals, and so on.
These go to the heart and identity.
Despite our best efforts and laws, we will never be able to eliminate this part of human nature. Free will is hard thing to contain, especially if we live in society that sends mixed messages about self-control and self-discipline.
There are no easy answers.
I suggest we pray for and offer assistance to those families affected. I suggest we teach ourselves well and our children how to necessarily respond to such behavior and cultivate in them to not engage in these behaviors and what leads to such violence.
God does not will nor allow such behavior; He gave us free will; the same free will that allows us to love also allows us to hate.
It is the training of ourselves to use that free will to love is where the most fundamental solution lies.
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