I surely never thought as I shared about the Buffalo supermarket shooting last week that there would yet again be another episode in our lives of such trauma, let alone at an elementary school involving our most vulnerable population – children. This is not a conversation about legislation, mental health, personal freedoms, public policy, politics. This is a conversation about who we are, who’ve we become, who we want to be, and who we can be.
Most likely our earliest ancestors were wired to accept violence as part of daily existence. After all, even if vegan or vegetarian, they would have had to defend themselves from predators and sometimes each other, also to kill to eat if carnivores. Weaponry was probably used for personal enjoyment but probably not abused in the ways we experience in today’s society. Violence was part of early cultures since it was an unavoidable fact of life. And I’ll even accept the possibility that mankind may be by its nature prone to violence as a means to accomplish personal and societal goals as imperialism throughout history has demonstrated.
All of that is true. Yet what seems to have happened into our days is such desensitization to violence. There is a long road of emotional non-wiring, actual disconnect, that occurs between the instinct to cuddle a kitten and treasure its soul to becoming a ruthless mass murder. The path from the innately beautiful creation we are fashioned after in His image to a person able to coldly kill in the ways we have seen is a long and tortuous one, filled with influences and experiences that have shaped that murderer. Some of those influences are individual, some are societal. The result is a person who no longer is capable of loving not only himself, but horrifically worse, unable to love another.
It’s happening to all of us by degree. Our youths play “Grand Theft Auto” and don’t see sci-fi killings, but rather, participate in virtual recreations of realistic incredible violence. Even we become desensitized watching coverage of the atrocities in Ukraine, seeing a room of bodies but not truly experiencing the individuals taken one by one, their personal beings, their individual stories. Seeing the horror desensitizes us for we actually can’t grasp the reality. With modern real time technology allowing us to be there virtually, let alone the social media bizarre conversations, we have to work to touch the humanity in the real human stories behind the stories we “experience”. From our comfy cars we have to work to feel the pain of the homeless person asking for help at the traffic light as we stop at the intersection.
There can be no meaningful legislation until the society we live in, each of us as individuals, fight to change our hearts as a people. And it is a fight. Just as we have to work/fight to feel joy at times, so too we must work to embrace the love that is showered on us infinitely from our Abba. There is no question that God touches the hearts of those who revere Him and that Yeshua’s love is inscribed into our hearts. We are so blessed to know and experience these profound truths. For so many, however, when life deals its inevitable painful blows, starting with childhood mistreatment and being bullied at the top of the list, we, as people, change. Those beautiful heartful trusting souls become heartless killers. The difference in them versus us may have less to do with innate differences than it does with life experiences, God’s place in the person’s life, and spiritual warfare.
Only when we change, when we recognize the need to work to retain our centers of love, when we minister to others and work to change unhealthy, literally evil situations, as individuals and through individuals, only then can meaningful societal change occur. The phrase “You can’t legislate morality” is a truth. Laws don’t change society, but rather, society’s laws are to reflect society’s values. It’s we as a people who need to change in order to create a system of order that is godly.
Some feel helpless. How can one person make a difference? Actually it is only through working as individuals to bring more light and love into this world, person by person, can society ever change, for the whole is the result of the collective individuals. Perhaps taking an action for the benefit of another despite one’s own personal beliefs represents the deepest way we can express our divinely given love for another.
Rather than be discouraged I encourage you to work harder to bring light to the darkness. It is for us who try to walk close with Him, who work to live lives in the model of Yeshua, to be in those conversations about anti-bullying policies, to speak into conversations about violent games and bring other alternatives to the table, to actively participate in your faith community to be able to influence broader spectrums of people in your own community and as your people interact with others to create a ripple effect of goodness.
Be a light in your family and in the families of others to help our young people be protected from the forces of evil. Speak up in the workplace for justice and kindness to others. Speak truth to power. Get involved in changing important societal issues. There is power in numbers. You are not alone in your quest for goodness in these days.
We are our society. Working to create one driven by love and kindness may help us get closer to a system that can reflect these values, one built on His Love.