It’s impossible to put last week’s school shooting in Connecticut out of your mind, isn’t it? On one hand, you don’t want to forget. You want to pray for the shocked and grieving survivors; to carry some of their sorrow. And on the other hand, the news media won’t allow us to set it aside even for a few moments. Although there are still few hard facts to report, there are always theories to spin and political views to champion.
Attorney General Eric Holder responded to the violence with a timely speech. He noted that a tragedy of this magnitude should cause us to stop and reflect on the kind of society we have become. Of course he’s right: we should. But we probabaly won’t because the questions are painful, complex, and politically incorrect.
Within minutes of the tragedy, commentators were blaming the whole affair on the availability of guns. Of course, we’ve had many, many well armed citizens since the first settlers came to these shores, but slaughtering school children is a very recent perversion of gun use. What’s more, Connecticut already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.
Mental illness has been blamed as well, but that’s only a half truth. There have been Americans with mental illness as long as there has been America, but for most of that time, disturbed people did not make a habit of slaughtering babies and teenagers.
If Americans ever finally decide to have an honest, national conversation about preventing mass killings in public school corridors and class rooms, we will need to look beyond the usual suspects. For example:
- It was well known that the young man who killed these children was tragically out of sync with reality. When his mother finally despaired, “I think I’m losing him,” why was there no way to have him institutionalized to protect unsuspecting neighbors and innocents in Newtown?” Answer: There was no way because it’s against the law to have potentially violent mentally ill adults committed to in-house treatment against their will until they commit a crime.
- Is it healthy or unhealthy for impressionable boys to spend hours assassinating and executing realistic human figures on violent video games? If this is truly as desensitizing as it sounds, why are we constantly warned about the hazards of cigarettes, sugar, and soft drinks, but never about the hazards of Mortal Kombat or God of War II?
- Why is it politically correct for presidents and public figures to quote the Bible and call for prayer after tragedies like this, but never in advance to prevent tragedies like this?
Since 1965 someone’s been ripping the spiritual infrastructure out of the United States. Prayer is offensive. Human life is no longer sacred- especially in the womb or in an Intensive Care Unit. Questions of right and wrong have been turned on their heads until almost nothing but smoking cigarettes and drinking 16 ounce soft drinks is absolutely wrong. People are no longer called to be responsible, moral agents; we are relegated to the faceless status of victims and minority groups. Families can afford expensive high tech gadgets and cars for every family member, but we can’t afford to sit down for a meal together a few evenings a week. And reciting lines from the Scripture or mentioning God is forbidden in nearly every public setting except presidential addresses following school shootings. A clear moral consensus once bound most Americans together and provided a buffer for disturbed and distressed people who were losing their bearings. Those buffers are long gone.
Thanks to all the spokesmen for so many different causes who have challenged us to ask questions about the kind of nation we have become. Perhaps the unspeakable destruction of so many innocent angels will prompt us to wrestle with the real demons we have unleashed on our society. Maybe this time we will finally recognize that we have strayed beyond the divine protection of Providence. Join me in praying for a prodigal nation to come to its senses.
Lift up the Cross!