Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas are 1500 miles apart, but over the weekend became one in shock and sorrow, as a nation was once again stunned by two mass murders.
At least 31 were left dead and dozens more were injured, leaving pundits, talking heads, and average American citizens with the same old haunting questions. Why? What were the motives of the two young gunmen? And what can be done so this never happens again?
James Howard Kunstler, an author, social critic, and blogger framed it this way. “In a nation afflicted by fads, crazes, manias, and rages, mass murder is the jackpot for nihilists — begging the question: why does this country produce so many of them?”
His answer? “This is exactly what you get in a culture where anything goes and nothing matters. Extract all the meaning and purpose from being here on earth, and erase as many boundaries as you can from custom and behavior, and watch what happens, especially among young men trained on video slaughter games.”
“For many,” Kunstler wrote, “there is no armature left to hang a life on, no communities, no fathers, no mentors, no initiations into personal responsibility, no daily organizing principles, no instruction in useful trades, no productive activities, no opportunities for love and affection, and no way out.”
As a nation mourns, many outraged citizens are crying out to our leaders, “Do something! Do Something,” like the crowd did during a speech by Ohio Governor, Mike DeWine during a Sunday night vigil for the victims. Yet the stark reality makes us silently wonder not IF this will happen again, but WHEN?
We are living in a culture, as Kunstler reminds us of the old truism “when nothing is sacred, everything is profane.”
“And what could be more profane, he asked, “than slaughtering your fellow humans en masse, for no good reason? Just because you felt like it at the time? Another time, you might feel like scarfing some tacos, or checking in on the free porn sites, or tweaking some crushed-up oxycontin. One message from the culture of anything-goes-and-nothing-matters comes through loud and clear: if it feels good, do it! And if you feel bad, do something to make yourself feel better.”
Kunstler and I were born in the same year. We have seen the changes in American society in the past 60 years, where human life is not deemed sacred. Abortion on demand. Calls for legalized euthanasia. The failure of a judicial system to exercise capital punishment on murderers. And an entertainment industry that glorifies violence.
I remember the days when school began with a prayer and saying the pledge of allegiance. All of the classmates in my elementary school came from a nuclear family–a father and a mother. People went to church. We were taught respect for authority figures. Society generally agreed on basic Judeo-Christian values. And imagine this, high school students had guns on the gun racks of their pickup trucks. But there were no mass shootings.
I’m not suggesting it was a perfect time. Or that returning to a nostalgic bygone era is the answer to our ills. We must go farther back than the values of a 1950’s America.
While Kunstler is probably correct that “the political process of recognizing what really ails this society is mired in bad faith, idiocy, and neuroticism,” he really doesn’t offer any viable solutions.
The answer is not in politicians passing more laws, or restricting gun sales. It’s not something that any President or political party can fix with secular solutions.
Our nation’s problem is the same as our personal problem. Sin. We live in a fallen, broken world. Evil exists. And evil men will “grow worse and worse.”
Only a return to Biblical values and God’s Word will restore some sanity to a crazy culture that has lost its way. The prophet of old was right when he cried, “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps (Jer. 10:23).
While we can’t personally stop the chaos in our culture, or eradicate the evil in our world, Christians can find God’s peace in our own hearts and shine as lights in a “crooked and perverse generation” (Phil 2:15).
We can “depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it” (Ps 34:14). We can look for ways to extend a helping hand to those who need it. Offer hope. And pray for our strife-torn world.
Rather than curse the darkness, let’s light a candle to show others the way of righteousness. In our lives. Our homes. Our churches. Our professions. And our communities.
Let’s reject every vestige of hatred, pride, and prejudice. And be filled with the fruit of Spirit that produces love, humility, patience, and peace.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman