The violence in Las Vegas a few days ago was heart wrenching. The sounds and images from the personal videos, and the news casts leave us horrified that events such as this happen in our nation. While some wrestle with conspiracy type theories, others wonder “where do we go from here?”. Surprisingly, as of yet, no clear motive has been disclosed. In our ‘trying to understand’ and ‘need to blame’ the violent act becomes but another polarizing event.
Some see the event as another in a long line of violence that could be diminished if our government looked at and passed better and perhaps stricter gun laws. Others want better controls for folks who may be dealing with some sort of mental illness and their ability to purchase guns. For many the issue is not about access to guns but instead is a human problem of the heart and the only hope is for persons to have an inward conversion. Also in consideration are the illegal gun operations that make guns accessible, certain loopholes some find for the purchase of weapons, and also mechanisms that make legal firearms function illegally.
If you step back for a moment from your particular stance, perhaps you’ll see that the issue isn’t quite as simple nor as cut and dry as we might wish it to be. These past few days I’ve been asking myself and I suppose I’m asking you who might stumble upon this to ask yourself, “What if I’m to blame?” Please don’t stop reading if that question rubs you wrong. Whether you agree or not, all I’m asking is that you hear me out.
Let me say, I’ve never been opposed to the legal owning and use of a firearm. Lots of my friends own guns, some love the firing range, many of them are hunters, and I have a shotgun that hangs in my bedroom (it’s only been fired about 3 times). I know that they cringe when they hear folks talk of stricter gun laws. It’s stated often that “we can’t legislate morality”, and yet we call for tougher immigration laws, and laws to crack down on drug use and abortion (to name a few). Perhaps part of the issue is that we don’t mind laws as long as they don’t infringe on my rights, my freedoms, or my pleasures, and instead they help promote my agenda.
If the issue is a heart issue (which I certainly believe plays a major role) then what do we do? Many of my fellow Believers would say the heart is at the forefront of this situation. So we pray and hope that God will do something, after all only God can change a heart. When violence occurs we often state things like “it’s just going to get worse until Jesus comes.” In all honesty that’s quite a morbid outlook and perhaps a way of saying, “there’s really nothing we can do.”
There’s no doubt that violent images are a huge part of our society. Our nation’s history is riddled with war, and we have often been the perpetrators of violence and not the purveyors of peace. “What if I’m to blame” for buying into the violent culture instead of being a true representative of God’s Kingdom? Does it say something about me if my heroes look more like Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, or Bruce Willis than they look like Jesus? (and I love Eastwood, the Duke, and Bruce Willis)… I suppose what I’m suggesting is that it has become much easier to hate than it is to love…and I think that causes lots of problems.
I’m not suggesting that anyone reading this is as guilty as the one who pulled the trigger in Vegas or in any other shooting spree. But I am suggesting that as a people we are all somewhat guilty in our dealing with the violence in our society. There are no easy answers as to what should happen next, if any legislation should follow, or by what means do we try and change the hearts of people. I do believe, however, that if any progress is made, it will mean sacrifice. It may mean giving up a preconceived idea about what will or won’t work. It may mean giving up a certain privilege, or right, or freedom. It may simply mean a willingness to listen, respect, and value another whose ideas are totally different than your own. If we can’t converse civilly, how will things ever progress? Perhaps consider the following questions?
Does my rhetoric on Social Media and in conversation with others promote civil discussion or does it promote hatred, name calling, and other divisive factions?
The life of Christ models one of sacrifice for humanity…what does my life model?
When someone wrongs me am I quick to forgive or am I quicker to seek retribution?
Is my instinct to love others? What is the condition of MY heart?