Friday, December 14th, 2012 was a tragic day. Twenty-eight individuals lost their lives due to a lone gunman at an elementary school in Newtown, CT. Since then the families and friends of these individuals have been in our prayers continuously. This act of terror will change the lives of so many people forever. As a parent of five children I can only begin to imagine and yet even then fail to grasp the brokenness that comes to a parent’s heart when such devastation hits a family and community.
Over the past week we have heard from many people proclaiming what needs to be done to prevent such a tragedy from ever occurring again. From arming teachers and placing armed guards and police officers in schools to stricter gun control laws and a re-implementation of the “assault rifle” ban. Gun sales and accessories are skyrocketing and concealed weapons permits are on the rise. As a concerned citizen and parent, I support an open and honest discussion on these topics. I have heard politicians such as our President, House Representatives and Senators on both sides of the aisle seek to politicize this tragedy and have taken the popular position of never letting “a serious crisis go to waste.” I am saddened that selfish goals and agendas have gotten in the way of the real issue. In an effort to promote their agenda many politicians and influential organizations are attempting to treat this tragic incident like a cancerous disease that is spreading wildly throughout the body with only an aspirin. It may make them feel like they are doing something to affect the cancer but in reality they are only covering symptoms of the bigger problem.
Our President, in a recent speech said, “We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them we must change.” I agree one hundred percent. Change is necessary. The answer to the tragedy in CT and similar attacks across our country is not that difficult to figure out but it will be a difficult “fix” because many, if not most, will lack the courage and fortitude to make the necessary changes.
Tragedies of this kind don’t happen just because someone had access to a gun, and the answer is not just to have armed guards in assault garb roaming the schools. Tragedies of this nature don’t happen because of lax gun laws, access to “assault rifles” or because our mental health system failed us. This tragedy and others like it happen because we as a society have devalued life itself. The teaching and training of righteous morals, values and absolute truth have been replaced by situational ethics, relative truth and “live and let live”.
I’m not implying that we as a nation condone such murderous actions that happened in Newton or in any other area of the country, but what I am saying is that we as a nation are sending mixed messages about how we value life itself.
We all love the occasional heart-warming story of a life saved from the clutches of certain death yet in our entertainment, general media consumption and even in our political speech we allow ourselves to feast at the table of distain, anger, hatred, violence, all slathered with the au jus of depravity.
Why are we surprised when such a murderous terror act occurs in a small town like Newtown when saving the black footed ferret or the Mississippi gopher frog is more important to us than millions of unborn babies? Why are we surprised when a horrific act occurs like what happened at Columbine, when violence and murder are popular movie and computer games themes? Yes, some would say that videogames, TV programs, movies and music violence don’t affect societal actions, but go ask those who spend billions of dollars each year in advertising how medium affect societal actions.. Why are we surprised when such horrors like 9/11 happen, when we teach our children we are only accountable to our societal rules? A society whose morals and values change almost annually based in large part on its emotions and feelings. Why are we surprised when a 16 year old shoots and kills someone over a pair of tennis shoes, when we view ourselves and teach our children that we are nothing more than a higher form of life in the animal kingdom which evolved through the process of survival of the fittest?
We will spend millions if not billions of our taxpayer dollars debating, posturing, politicizing and defaming one another over the symptoms of these violent attacks in our country while most will ignore the root cause; the devaluation of life due to the depravity of man by the ignoring of our need for absolutes (truth, morals and values) that are unchanging. We give ourselves too much credit when we make ourselves the authority over what is right and wrong. Left to our own devices and a lack of these absolutes as our compass, chaos would abound. We don’t need laws and rules because we are so good, it’s because we are not as good as we think we are. Until we as a nation are willing to come together and address the root cause of our problems, like the cancer patient taking only aspirin, the President, Congress and “We the People” are fooling ourselves.
So yes Mr. President, we must change. But it is not our rhetoric or even our laws, but our hearts.