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Wednesday, March 6, 2013
“At the root of war is fear: not so much the fear men have of one another as the fear they have of everything. It is not merely that they do not trust one another; they do not even trust themselves . . . . They cannot trust anything because they have ceased to believe in God.” — Thomas Merton
It has been two months since the massacre at Sandy Hook, and I have heard the following as solutions to the problem of violence in our country: putting prayer back in school, banning violent video games, restricting the rights of people with mental illness and controlling what guns people can buy and who can buy them.
Let me go on record and say that none of these things will cure the problem of violence in our society. Any measure we take on any of these may curb it, but they will never eradicate violence in our culture. Let’s look at each one briefly.
Prayer in schools: Does anyone really believe that no one in that school prayed that day? Prayer is a powerful thing, and I use it daily, but we have this thing called free will. God, out of his love, gave us free will. We all can choose good or choose evil; some will choose evil even in the face of prayer. After Jesus was born, thousands of young boys were killed at the hand of King Herod. Putting prayer in school will not change people’s free will.
Video games: As a former teacher, I do believe the games our young children play are too violent and graphic and leave nothing to the imagination. With that said, if video games are truly the cause, then we would have many more massacres than we do now. Playing a violent video game simply does not make someone become a mass murderer.
Mental illness: Mental illness is a critical issue in our country, and it rightly deserves our attention. Better access to mental health services is greatly needed for those who cannot afford it on their own. It is also not the reason we have mass murderers. Did you know that studies show that not all mass murderers have a mental illness? Just because someone has a diagnosed mental illness does not predispose him to becoming a mass murderer.
Gun control: The Second Amendment of our Constitution guarantees Americans the right to bear arms. Short of abolishing the amendment, it would not eradicate violence in our culture. Even if something is illegal, people will find ways to get what they need. The firearms used at Sandy Hook were not the shooter’s guns; they were his mother’s, which she owned legally. As much as I hate guns, any actions on control, even if successful, would not curb the violence in our country. Though I do not believe everyone being armed is the solution either.
So what do I believe? What is the solution to stopping and preventing these massacres from occurring in our country? I believe fear is the biggest problem of the human race. I believe that if we want to curb the violence in our culture, we have to look inside ourselves. We have to look at our own fear, search it out and dispel it. Fear controls us, and we allow it to by feeding it.
Since the shooting at Sandy Hook, gun dealers have been unable to keep ammunition on their shelves. That is fear, people, plain and simple. When we search out our fear, we have to be willing to face our own grief as well. Just as we are quick to fear, we are quick to suppress.
Grief is like a taboo word in our society. We are supposed to “suck it up” and keep going. Any grief, fear or anger that is not dealt with explodes eventually. Now, while you and I may not massacre little children, we can all think of times when everything came to a head and whoever was in front of us got the brunt of it.
Lastly, if we are going to have courage to face our fears and our grief, then we must embrace love. Love for ourselves and for our neighbor. Burdens are much easier to carry when we share our fears and griefs with each other. In sharing our fears and grief, we discover that we are not alone, and we know and feel the love of another person. Nothing can change till we start with ourselves.
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