The terrible violence in Buffalo, NY coupled with the horrible violence in Uvalde, TX has me feeling a vast array of emotions.
I don't know the answer to this evil. I have some steps we should explore as a national community.
But first, I am moved to pray:
God of peace. God of truth. God of life.
Why? Why? Why?
Not again. Not again. Not again.
A young man targets people based on their ethnos? Men and women created by you. Loved by you. Bearing your image!
A young man targets children. Precious little ones. Like the one our Lord welcomed. Like the ones our Lord said the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to.
Father, are you not mightier than these evil men? Could you not stop them? Prevent them? Send someone to intervene in their lives before this happens?
Our hands shake with grief and they ball up in rage.
This has to stop.
Put an end to it Lord.
Show us the way to put an end to it.
Spirit of God, comfort the families in Buffalo, Uvalde, and beyond.
Give them your peace,
not as the world gives it,
not from their current circumstances,
but that can only come from You.
May they feel your loving arms wrapped around them.
May they feel your presence in their
Father God be with the survivors,
who witness these horrors.
Heal the wounds on their bodies, and
send your servants to help heal the wounds in their souls.
Help us in our distress God.
Search our hearts and reveal any evil within.
Help guide our political leadership to find unity and wise laws -
for we know you will use the law to restrain evil.
Help guide us to our neighbors in distress.
May we become a community again.
Mothers to the motherless.
Fathers to the fatherless.
Sons and daughters to the childless.
Sisters and brothers to all.
Heal our land, Father.
Change our country.
In the Name of Jesus.
I do not have answers or solutions.
This is not definitive. But a friend of mine pointed out that bad ideas often lead to good ideas.
So, I offer some thoughts about things we can do:
- Cool down the angry rhetoric. America has been characterized by rage for the last decade. There is a time for righteous anger... but not every day. This angry rhetoric more often than not using dehumanizing vulgarity or terms for political opponents. When we dehumanize people or groups, they become more enraged and act in inhumane ways. This also makes a person vulnerable to radical ideologies. We must become people who disagree with grace.
- Check in on young people. Get to know people in your community. Volunteer to help out with basketball or soccer. Volunteer at the high school. Evil breeds in darkness and it cannot survive in the light. Many of these young men need people who will come alongside and support them. If healthy people aren't speaking into their lives, the monsters of this world will.
- Invite young people to volunteer. This might require us to join churches or community groups first. But getting young people involved in helping others, builds their self-worth and gives them purpose. We need to invite young people to invite their friends (and acquaintances, and that one kid no one knows very well) to do something greater than themselves.
- Love the young people in your life. Most everyone has young people in their lives. Maybe your own children, nieces or nephews, cousins, co-worker's kids, or people in the neighborhood. Invest time and money in them. As appropriate, send text messages, send letters, make phone calls, offer them books, ask what you can be praying about in their lives. Make some regular intentional contact so they know someone cares.
These are some thoughts. Maybe some of these bad ideas can lead to good ones.
Those of you who know me, know that I am a big proponent of political cooperation.
I also believe that one of the reasons God has given us government is to restrain evil. It will always do so imperfectly, but minimizing evil is better than letting it go unfettered.
Here are some very flawed thoughts:
- Security Guard or Police at the Entrance of Schools A friend of mine in banking told me that people who are up to no good don't want to be greeted at the door. Just having a greeter can minimize people with violent intent. I understand this would be an enormous cost. And there's possibly better measures.
- Mandatory classes and psychological evaluations of gun owners from 18-25. Ok, hear me out gun-rights advocates. I think this might be something both the right and left can get behind. The vast majority of these mass shootings are being carried out by young men in this age bracket. Let's do something to try and minimize access to deadly weapons to people who should not have them. In many states if young people want to get a driver's license, they need to first take a series of classes before they're allowed to take a written test and driving test. Car insurance companies require a very high premium for drivers under the age of 25. Let's face it, at 18 most of us made some pretty bad choices. I don't know of any parent who would hand over control of their household finances to their 18-year-old kids. So, let's take a page out of the traffic laws and require adults who are most prone to volatile decisions (18-25), to complete mandatory training, and complete mandatory evaluations to minimize violent people getting their hands on deadly weapons.
- Make Internet pornography an opt-in service. I think pornography is a blight on human society. A public health crisis. But I know we live in a free country. Fine. Let's not restrict it, but let's make access to the majority of pornographic websites something a person has to opt-in to with their internet service provider, and not something we have automatic access to. It is well documented that viewing pornography rewires the brain. Over time, a porn user's brain stops associating people as people, and it begins viewing people as objects. Objects! I know this proposal is a long shot. Porn makes a lot of corporations a lot of money. But if we wonder how a person can mass-murder people, even children, it's because they no longer see people as people. They see them as things. Not image-bearers, loved by God. Objects and obstacles to be removed. Porn does that to the brain. (And no, I'm not saying everyone who looks at porn is going to become a mass-murderer. I am saying that it removes a moral barrier that can lead to dehumanizing people.)
What other personal steps do you think people could take?
What are some political moves we could realistically take to minimize this evil?
I'm going to spend some more time in prayer for my community today.