In the aftermath of the horrible tragedy in Tucson, we in the U.S. are taking another look at ourselves and our conduct. This shooting is another in a series of multiple murders occurring in public places. We are attempting to surface and analyze factors which might have contributed to such horrible bloodshed. It seems to this writer these incidents have at least two common ingredients:
1. Some deranged nut has decided to make his point by killing innocent people then, in some cases, committing suicide.
2. Very often their erratic, potentially violent and aberrant behavior has been revealed in their public ranting and raving on the internet and in other forums.
Otherwise, commonalities are hard to find.
Some have pointed to the obvious decline of civility – especially among politicians and particularly during campaigns (where the mud-slinging is equivalent to excavating the Panama Canal) — as a cause. They have specified rancorous debates in Congress where one member actually dares to interrupt another – even the President of the United States!
I find this amusing. Our congress is actually much more sedate than the British or Australian legislative bodies. If you don’t believe me, listen in to public debates and speeches (even by the Prime Ministers) in the English or Australian Parliaments. So far, these have not provoked anything worse than name-calling. Nasty campaigns and rowdy debates may be reprehensible, but there’s no evidence they morph into massacres.
As of this writing, citizens of the United States are in mourning for the senseless loss of life in our country. How to avoid similar tragedies in the future will be the subject of many future discussions and investigations. In the meantime, what can we do?
1. Our leaders/public figures/politicians/celebrities can be more circumspect and take responsibility for their conduct. Unfortunately thousands, like sheep, look to them as trend-setters and examples, for good or ill.
2. We can be sensitive to warning signs in our neighbors, family, co-workers and fellow-students. Parents, counselors and teachers need to take erratic behavior and threats of violence seriously. So often the shooters are lonely, marginalized people who need help we can give or get for them. And, for goodness sake, keep guns out of the hands of the obviously mentally disturbed.
3. Finally, and most important of all – those who claim to follow Christ can live as our Master dictates: loving our God, loving our neighbors and treating others as we wish to be treated. There are enough of us to make a major positive difference.
In the meantime, as you pray, be sure to lift up the precious families and victims of the Arizona heartbreak to the Father.