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“We don’t mind shootings one by one but mass shootings irritate us because we must act either full of grief or indignation. We must pretend we care. The irritating thing is that we must put on the performance every time a mass shooting happens, and they seem to happen more and more frequently. It’s exhausting to pretend at those levels.” (Undisclosed quote)
I’ve noticed that reporters have virtually stopped using the expression, “random acts of violence.” The notion never made sense. There is nothing random. I groan or laugh when a shooting happens and reporters say, “Investigators are looking for the motives for the shooting.” This is not to say there are never motives. Of course, there are. But motives and contexts for acts of virtue, or vice, are typically deeper than we can probe. “The thoughts of a man are deep waters.
Delicious, healthy fruit and noxious, poisonous fruit both come from seeds planted in soil, watered and under the influence of sunlight.
Things booth good or bad spring from:
Soil – the nutritional context of the culture
Seed – a truth or falsehood
Water – our desire for outcomes
Sun – the attention or highlights we give our plants
Here is an example:
Into the soil of permissiveness, inattention and self-absorption seeds of resentment, self-pity, and self-justification are planted. The seeds are watered by unresolved pain or lust, and get expose to the radiation of false media, gossip, and slander.
No one is surprised when a seed grows. Paul was a master gardener. He knew about selecting the best seeds. “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” Galatians 6:8.
We prefer trimming weeds over pulling. Our approach to getting rid of wickedness should be the same as the Lords. Go for the root. John the baptizer told the crowds, “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” Matt 3:10.
I get exhausted with conversations recommending limiting gun rights as a solution for crime. It is beating at the branches. I admit I run out of patience with folly. The scripture says, “There is a way which seems right to a man which ends in death.”
There are financial “solutions” which cause economies to die.
There are ecological “solutions” which cause environments to die.
There are cultural “solutions” which cause societies to die.”
True solutions go for the root. This is a much harder than beating at branches.
Every honest soul knows that hands are not responsible for strangulations, matches are not responsible for arsons, knives are not responsible for stabbings and guns are not responsible for shootings. We must accept responsibility and take ownership!
A sign read, “84,999,987 gun owners did not shoot anyone yesterday.”
A few dozen did.
What is the difference between the two groups?
There were two strong men.
One strangled a woman to death.
The other helped a woman rototill her garden.
Both men had power for action.
What is the difference between the men?
STOPPING VIOLENCE IS HARD WORK
The hard work is getting to our children’s hearts and shaping their character from the inside out. I know some would like to substitute this hard work with measures like outlawing scissors, gasoline and rope. Easy fixes sound appealing, but like overnight miracle health plans to get trim and fit, they don’t work. Our efforts from earliest childhood must be to shape hearts. Did I saw this was easy?
Legislators merely putting print on pages does not work. Chicago proved this with the strictest gun laws. When parents take ownership of raising godly children, and society supports their efforts, we have largely stopped the problem of violence.
I know some immediately say, “It’s too late. We missed our opportunities to shape children.” But is that a copout? Parents should always encourage their adult children to be people of integrity and upright character, caring for the welfare of others. We need to restore the notion that people are precious and valuable because they are made in the image of God!
RESTORING RESPECT FOR PEOPLE
I remember days in my youth when the waitress gave more respect to the customer, and the customer gave more honor to the waitress. Where did we slip in our values for people? When we consider people are made in the image of God we are inclined to be interested in them and honor them as special.
It is said, “Diminish life in one of its aspects and you diminish life in general.” If we dishonor or diminish the elderly the value of people in their teens is also diminished. If we devalue the tiny child in the womb we devalue the life in thirty-year-olds.
Restoring respect for people is a real solution! Did I say restoring value for people would be easy? It may be hard labor requiring decades to accomplish. I’m not aware of shortcuts. But I am aware of the truths which will have to sustain such reconstruction.
RESTORING REVERENCE FOR GOD
The fear of the Lord, the respect and worship of our creator, is what makes respecting and honoring our fellow creatures make sense. Many would like to say morality can be sustained without religion. Our American founders saw this is as nonsense.
President Washington in his farewell speech said,
Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens…
And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
Reverence for God is the foundation on which morality is built. Belief in the goodness of God and in our accountability to Him sustains good moral principles. There is no other foundation. Remove godly religion and morality will coast to a stop. Morality will fade over a generation or two when we exclude God from our schools and purge him from government and social discourse.
Restoring reverence for God is key to ending violence. Did I say it is easy? It would be “easier” to ban guns than to cultivate reverence for God. Of course, banning guns has backfired dreadfully in every nation before us! Restoring reverence for God is a hard work which may take decades, although I hope by the power of the Holy Spirit it may be Hastened!
Dog owners are responsible for the brutality of their animals. A violent dog is typically destroyed, the owner is responsible for injuries and must suffer consequences.
The Bible clearly says, “A father is not to be put to death for the sin of their children” Deut 24:16. But parents do have a weighty responsibility for raising their children. We know parents can’t be coerced to be good parents, and many parents don’t have the knowledge or skill they need. Most parents want to do their best. It’s hard work for them and hard work for those who would help them. We can do hard things!
There are food shortages but a more grievous deficit is the father shortage. Fatherless children are missing essential social vitamins. The vast majority of mass shooters are in this group. Fatherless children pact our penal institutions. The young man who abducted our daughter was in this category.
Did I say forging good fathers and mothers is easy? It may take years of hammer and anvil to raise a generator of good parents. Parenting is work we must own to have a healthy society. We honor America’s founding fathers. We are looking for leaders who have father-hearts.
The goal of public, private and home-school education should first be the formation of godly character, built, as president Washington said, on “religious principle.” Then we can learn the three “R’s.” Pretend this section is written three miles long! Most of you could do the writing.
Society’s values and manors don’t turn on a dime. Unlike a little speedboat huge steam ships, like societies, take time to turn.
MEASURES TO TAKE WHEN SOCIETY HAS FAILED TO SHAPE ITS CITIZENS
Now, because the above hard work has not been done we must make efforts to frustrate the mischief of undisciplined, rogue citizens. We have failed to do the hard work, now we must face the consequences. Last-ditch efforts must be employed.
We must convert schools and school grounds into hardened bunkers with locked and supervised doors.
Students must be frisked and their bags searched when they come to school
Children’s mandatory coursework must include self-defense training.
Armed guards must be employed.
School staff need to be armed.
Local police services need constant tactical training and communication systems need to be enlarged between class rooms, administrative offices, security, staff and parents.
Perhaps body bags should be stored in schools in case there is a breach.
Prosecutors must do their jobs. Some prosecutors have deliberately failed to prosecute. The luxury of this permissiveness cannot be sustained. Isaiah 26:9-10 tells us,
When your judgments come upon the earth,
the people of the world learn righteousness.
But when grace is shown to the wicked,
they do not learn righteousness
Our nation has gone so far in permissive policies toward criminals I fear it will swing to the other extreme. If the government cannot hold the center the public will insist on harsher penalties which may become gruesome.
When the government fails to discipline its rogue citizens others apart from our judicial system will take it upon themselves to do so. Our judges and government leaders must hold the center!
WE HAVE FAILED TO DO THE HARD WORK
We have failed to do the hard work of planting godly character in the hearts of our children. The weeds have taken over. A state of crisis forces us to trim weeds and beat at branches! The consequences of our neglect have caught up with us. We must take emergency measures.
When a rampaging, mentally ill murderer is at the door it is too late for childhood character lessons. It is time for last ditch efforts. If the dog was never trained and turns violent it must be put down when it attacks. How tragic that mass shooters, most so young, must be killed to stop them, when they might have been stopped as four-year-olds.
Makers of guns do not glorify violence. Creators of violent songs, games and movies do. How dare we suggest prosecuting gun makers before we prosecute these polluters of society! How wickedly tragic when young people practice the evils they have ingested! We have laws about spilling deadly chemicals or sewage. These polluters should be prosecuted!
Use deadly force to stop drug dealers. All of the perpetrators of mass shootings for the past 20 years “were either actively taking powerful psychotropic drugs or had been at some point in the immediate past before they committed their crimes.” Stopping the drug dealer would have stopped the carnage.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
Several years after our daughter was abducted I met one of his classmates. This man said, “We mercilessly teased him [the abductor].” As this man spoke I thought to myself, “I am talking to an accomplice to the crime.” Don’t you think the people who are responsible for violence should be held accountable?
OK, let’s get personal. Are we able to own our responsibility?
Were you praying for your community the day that crime happened?
Did you confront that unruly child for their folly seven years before the crime?
Were you cultivating positive relationships and activities with that neighbor child?
Were you tolerant of abortion reducing the value of life?
Did you think the drug problem was not your problem?
Did you insensitively tease?
Were you inattentive, lost in your screen?
Are you and I not accountable as accomplices to crimes of violence?
There is very practical repentance we can do. It boils down to the chief commands our Lord Jesus gave us. Love! We can pray for that couple who is on the verge of breaking up and leaving wounded, aimless, fatherless children! We can befriend and mentor lonely children. There are many inconvenient things we can do.
We can again choose the hard work, the heart work, to turn our culture back to godly Christian character. It may take a few decades. Are you willing to pitch in?
Steven C Johnson
Landing Strip Enterprises