Over the past several day I have read a variety of news articles, commentaries and of course the ever-present opinions expressed on Facebook. I have been reading about the killing of children and adults in Newtown, Ct.
Replete, abundantly, is the discussion of gun control. That discussion is followed by accusations and assumptions about mental health. Behind that is the argument about God not being allowed into schools. The alternate views are praised and defamed. Blame is laid at the feet of every special interest and cause imaginable. In some cases it is mild. In other cases it is severe to the point of possibly needing investigation by authorities…before another incident erupts.
As I said in a previous post it appears to me that there is a lot of hacking at the branches, and little attack on the root cause. I will address this in a manner offensive to some, naive to others, and laudatory to a few.
To begin with the argument for gun control is understandable. Take away the guns and the weapon of choice is eliminated, thus subverting the ability of a potential assailant to commit such heinous acts. Seems logical, except for the fact that it will not prevent these acts from reoccurring. In fact, when these acts do occur they will be that much more astonishing because we will have presumed safety where it did not exist.
Contrary to the argument for gun control is the argument against it. A heavily armed and trained teacher in the kindergarten class could have and would have “made short work” of the scoundrel. Their successful prosecution of preventive measures would be a clear message to all future assailants that they would be shot clean through. Thus nobody would ever attempt such a dastardly deed again. Weapons of self-defense have been successfully used for thousands of years. Yet sadly, violence continues. Besides, the prospect of an armed defender being in the right place at the right time is extraordinarily remote.
I shall not take quite as much time on the mental health issue. In short it comes down to this. One person pridefully says, ‘Because I have been trained, read a book, have experience with someone close to me that suffers for a mental health problem, I am therefore an expert. Listen to me…This must be a mental health problem.” Further, they, and a host of others with even less (if possible) understanding pontificate about the need for more mental health resources. The long and short of the “it must be a mental health problem” simply are choosing to believe that such heinous acts can only come from derangement. They quickly reject that anyone differently motivated than themselves must “have something wrong with them”. To me that is quite an extraordinarily prideful conclusion.
So, OK, what do I suggest? Certainly not an all-encompassing solution to the self-centered behavior of assault. I do offer what I believe is viable for a society steeped in a genuine desire to “fix” the problem. Kindness!
Remember that story of the leprous general in the bible. He went to the prophet and said he wanted to be cured. In short, with a touch of irony, the prophet said “go take a bath”. The general was incensed. Afterall, he was important. The nerve of a prophet telling him to cleanup his act. Fortunately, the general had a servant, more accustomed to being humble, who suggested to the big man that if the prophet had instructed him to do some “great thing” than wouldn’t he have done it readily. Then the servant suggested that the general just go and do what he was told. To the general’s credit he “humbled up” and was cured.
In that story lies the fundamental cause of human frailties; Pride. It is the cause of all enmity between men. It is the cause of all enmity between man and God.
Among the complexities of charity, which is commanded in the scriptures, exists the dimension of kindness.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
I offer a solemn thought which could lead to a broader scope of repair to the fissures, cracks, and breaks in society. Have we “tried the word of God”. I don’t mean the try which says “God, yeah I think He is real.” I mean the try which says “Yes, His advice makes complete sense and I AM going to do it!”
I don’t know the circumstances that led to any of the recent public displays of unreserved acts of violence. I serious doubt anyone does or ever really will. Yet, I am naive enough to believe that simple acts of kindness would have altered the behaviors.
Maybe it happened, I certainly don’t know, but here is what I imagine could have occurred. A despondent person. contemplating some vile act at a mall, a theater, or an elementary school may have been walking the street the evening before or the morning of such acts. Then, to their surprise a stranger offered a kind word, held a door, said thank you, let the person “go first” in line. Such simple acts may have delayed their “acting out” their self-contained solutions to their despondency. Maybe, just maybe, a caring kind gesture would give them confidence in their Godly humanity.
Now, imagine the effect upon that person, if each day for many weeks, months or years some random act of kindness was extended in their behalf. I am sufficiently naive to believe those acts of kindness would, in fact, alter their behavior.
Now, who is willing to have the courage to extend such acts of courtesy, generosity, charity, or kindness? This message is not new. It is as old as God communicating His desires to mankind. Hmmmm. There are those words again; “man” and “kind”. They fit together as naturally as “Please” and “Thank you”.
Ahhh. But in my suggestion I err gravely. Perpetual kindness in all places and in all circumstance is “no great thing” for which a person can be recognized.