On October 21st, a 12 year old boy brought a gun to Sparks Middle School––a school 12.3 miles from my home––and opened fire, killing a teacher and wounding two classmate, before turning the gun on himself.
Last Friday, a 23 year old man walked into Los Angeles International Airport and opened fire, killing one TSA worker and injuring three other people before being shot himself and arrested.
And on Monday, a 20 year old man walked into a New Jersey mall shooting into the air and at security cameras “causing widespread panic” before committing suicide.
That’s three shootings in three weeks.
I don’t think it takes much intelligence to recognize we’ve got a problem here––a problem much of America feels helpless to resolve.
I am not one to advocate more gun control, I grew up in a hunting family, and I believe Americans have a right to bear arms. Additionally, if we ban guns, those with malicious intent are sure to obtain them illegally anyway. Honestly, more gun control would simply be treating a symptom and would not address the real issue behind the acts of violence committed by children and young adults.
I understand that each of the recent situations are different and each has its own cause. I’m, certainly, not trying to oversimplify things here, but I can’t help but think that the root cause just may be the same in all situations like these. I believe people who commit these acts of violence have been hurt. I believe people who undertake murderous rampages may feel unloved and unknown. Possibly even unseen or unwanted. These people have been hurt. Sinned against often enough––and severely enough––that their anger has turned to hatred and bitterness, which then fuels their desire for vengeance.
They say hurting people hurt people.
It’s true, and while this doesn’t excuse any wrongdoing––any sin––it can serve to explain things a bit. But before I go on, let me make something ridiculously clear––sin is never justifiable. We can never justify our wrongdoing based upon the wrongs committed against us. BUT we can look at the causes of our sin and come to a better understanding of why we fell into that sin in the first place. Scripture tells us sin is passed down. The sins you commit against others will ultimately have its effect and will consequently spur others on toward sin as well.
But the reverse is also true. I know I’ve quoted this before, but I just love this quote so I’ll quote it again. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” How true Dr. King was!
You see, we ought to be addressing this problem from a different angel. We, as a society, cannot continue to see hurting or disturbed people and simply tell them they need to get over their feelings and move on. We’re called to be Jesus’ hands and feet here on earth. We’re called to love one another, and I have a sneaking suspicion that these people who decide to undertake these murderous rampages have ever been loved properly. Now, I understand that some individuals who commit crimes have mental illness, but it seems to me that if we simply loved one another as Christ loved––and continues to love––us we might just start see some change in this world.
Perhaps we, as a community––we, as followers of Christ––need to love better. But more specifically, we need to love our children better. And not just our own children. There are many children in foster care and countless others who are fatherless who simply need one person to pour into them. These children need love! The greatest longing of the human heart is to be known and to be loved. Let’s begin to see our children. To love our children well. To give them the gift of our time.
How might things have turned out differently if the three boys mentioned above truly felt like they mattered?
It seems these boys were so wounded that they were willing to kill others. There’s something fundamentally wrong here, and it points to a larger problem our society continually fails to address.
We see the family unit breaking down like never before in history. The number of children living in a single parent home has nearly doubled in the last fifty years. One-third of all American children––totaling 15 million––are growing up without a father, and another 5 million are without a mother (2010 Census). Now, I’m certainly not saying that if you’re a single parent, your child is doomed to failure. There are many single parents who are committed, loving parents, and I commend them for their dedication. It can’t be easy to undertake a job intended for two.
But as the family unit breaks down, so too does our society. A healthy family unit is the backbone to any society.
Countless children today live without a reliable, loving adult pouring into them, and we wonder why we hear more about school shootings and other acts of violence. These children are angry. They’re confused. And they need us. They need good, Godly adults to step up and be a role model. They need someone to care. Someone to pour into them. To love them. To see them. To know them.
And isn’t this the desire of all mankind? Don’t we all want to be known and to be loved unconditionally for who we really are?
This problem looms large when we look at its entirety, but if each of us would simply pour into one child––a child that will one day grow to be either a productive, well-adjusted member of our society or a thorn in our society’s side––we can make a difference. Together, each doing our part, we can change the world. And we can help make all this school shooting/mass shooting nonsense a thing of the past!
What are your thoughts? Share in the comments.