Sadly, San Bernadino, CA was the scene of yet another mass shooting as assailants gunned down dozens of defenseless people at a social services center. I think we can all agree that this type of violence is becoming all too common.
In glancing over some Twitter feed about the incident (before the identities of the assailants came to light), something immediately struck me. While a few people expressed compassion and support for the victims and their families, the majority launched into their well-worn arguments for and against gun control. But there’s an elephant in the gun control argument room that nobody seems to be talking about: the growing meanness now characterizing our culture.
On practically every level of society, people seem to care more about themselves and less about the well-being of others. On a basic level, common courtesy is lacking. If, for example, my yard work takes me out near the street, only a few older people will slow down to ensure my safety. Most simply don’t care and speed by as if I’m not even there. But really, the issue runs much deeper than simple courtesy.
Our Children Are Becoming Violent
At the Woodland Hills School District in Pittsburgh, students at the Edgewood Primary School have created quite the uproar with a series of attacks on teachers.
Four teachers and a librarian have resigned from the school since September, and the teachers’ union filed a grievance last month claiming 11 teachers have been assaulted at the school which has 455 students in grades K-3.
Did you catch the grade levels in the quote from wtae.com? K-3. Our youngest students are assaulting their adult teachers!
I wish I could say this were an isolated incident, but it isn’t. Almost routinely, our local news reports fights between teenagers—on school buses, in various neighborhoods, and in malls. One local (suburban) mall was recently forced to implement a major security upgrade as a result.
Sadly, we also see selfish, cold, and uncaring behavior in our local college environment. Sexual assaults, stabbings, and shootings have become far too common.
In practically every facet of society, people are becoming increasingly violent, and yet, our focus is on always on guns. Is anybody addressing the root issues? “Gun violence” is only the tip of the iceberg; the underlying problem is a culture of violence that now characterizes the United States.
Some on the liberal left have blamed the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting on “fiery antiabortion rhetoric” from the conservative right.
The Washington Post makes the following reference to Vicky Cowart, president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains:
“We’ve seen an alarming increase in hateful rhetoric and smear campaigns against abortion providers and patients over the last few months,” Cowart said in a statement. “That environment breeds acts of violence.”
If Cowart’s argument holds true, then we can blame at least some—if not most—of our domestic mass shootings on the environment bred by violent TV, movies, and video games (not to mention the slaughter and dismemberment of innocent babies in the Planned Parenthood clinics). After all, if the mere words of “hateful rhetoric” spawn violence, how much more will the gruesome images of our increasingly violent entertainment cause people to act out?
While Christian influence is being systematically removed, government policies and cultural influences are breaking down the nuclear family where love and compassion should be taught. At the same time, our children are growing up in a culture of media violence, and sadly, the line between fiction and reality is nearly impossible for their young minds to draw. Becoming increasingly hardened at an early age, they then grow into cold, uncaring adults—the reality over which few of our activists and politicians seem concerned.
How Should Christians Respond?
In all honesty, I don’t expect meaningful change on this issue any time soon. Why? Because we prefer to avoid the potentially painful ramifications of dealing with root issues. Rather, we’ll continue to allow people to die while waging war over money and control.
In all of this, I find an especially profound warning from Jesus to those of us who profess faith in His name. In speaking of the last days before His return to earth, Jesus more or less addressed the elephant that we all seem to be ignoring:
Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. Matthew 24:12-13 (NASB)
Without question, we live in crazy, unfair, and tumultuous times, but the message from our Lord and Savior is clear: we dare not allow our love to grow cold. At least in part, this is the meaning of “being in the world without being of the world.”
What an amazing, growing opportunity God’s people have to shine the light of His profound love into the deep darkness of a cold and uncaring world!
May the Lord have mercy on our souls and fill us with His compassion!