“Horrific,” was the word Broward country Sheriff Scott Israel kept repeating in yesterday’s news conference describing the aftermath of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“It’s catastrophic,” Israel said, as he recounted the events that left 17 dead and 15 wounded, some seriously fighting for their lives. “There really are no words.” Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie called it “a horrific situation.”
The attacked, which occurred on Valentine’s Day, just prior to dismissal, was the 25th fatal active school shooting since Columbine in 1999.
Following each heart-breaking assault, we ask, “Why?” And what can we do “so this never happens again?”
Predictably there has been a political response repeating the need for gun control and more laws restricting the purchase and possession of firearms. Could that help? Maybe. But is it at the heart of the real cause?
There are no simple answers, but here are a few observations.
Our culture has changed dramatically in the past 50 years. We are dealing with increased issues of mental illness and depression. The use of opioids has reached epidemic proportions. Violence has become normalized in America today through interactive video games, movies and media coverage.
In addition, the structure of the family has been steadily crumbling since the 1950’s. There is a failure in parenting and in personal accountability. Moral standards are in flux. And the doctrine of “no absolutes” has become the mantra of many. Spiritual values are publicly mocked. And Christianity is ridiculed.
While the official investigation will uncover more details and a possible motive behind the attack by this troubled 19-year-old shooter, Florida Governor Rick Scott may have summarized the situation most succinctly and accurately when he lamented, “You come to the conclusion that this is just absolutely pure evil.”
The Governor’s observation has a Biblical basis. Almost 2,000 ago Jesus said,
“What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mk. 7:20-23)
However, regardless of the specific motives behind this atrocity, we know that hearts are hurting, lives have been shattered, young people are shaken and a community is in mourning. We share your sorrow. You are in our prayers.
May the Father of mercy and God of compassion give you strength, courage, and comfort to soothe your suffering and provide peace in this time of trouble.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman