I have a hard time writing about tragedies. In fact, I have a hard time processing tragedies all together. I am a dweller. I sit with a tragedy for days and weeks and just keep thinking that maybe, just maybe there was a way to prevent it. Maybe if we would have just changed one circumstance, this never would have happened.
I find myself dwelling days later on the Connecticut shooting. The weekend was full of opportunities for me to try to blame one circumstance or another, hoping that in placing the blame there it would somehow make things better--perhaps change future situations like this.
I wanted to blame the guns. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a big fan of the 2nd amendment. And when guns are used to kill, it reinforces my desire to blame them. I desperately wanted to write a post on Saturday about the need for gun reform.
I wanted to blame mental illness. I wanted to say that he just couldn't help it, that he had no control over his actions. It would be unsettling, even if it were true, but it would still give me some sense of closure. We could call for more money invested in money for those suffering from mental illness, and we could move on.
I even wanted to blame the society itself. The video games, the violent movies. These things numb us more than we realize. Perhaps this was the time to call for change in how Hollywood makes money, and how we entertain ourselves.
I wanted to blame all those things, but ultimately I couldn't do it. I couldn't do it because deep down I know a truth that cuts the legs under the blame game:
Just because we have a reason does not mean we have an excuse.
Just because we have dangerous guns available to us does not mean that it is an excuse for anyone to pull the trigger at another human being.
Just because someone has a mental illness does not mean that they have an excuse to act violently toward another. (In fact, to suggest that this is an excuse is to insult the many mentally ill who live happy, peaceful lives).
Just because we have a culture captivated with violence does not mean that any of us have an excuse to absorb this violence and allow it to desensitize us to the precious nature of live.
We want to make excuses, but in reality we have just one thing: sinfulness.
My preacher said it very well this Sunday: Sin is simple. To take life, just like having an affair or lying, comes down to a choice. A choice to do wrong. We see tragedies like this because we live in a sinful world, and this world is very sinful itself.
And the truth is that no amount of gun regulations will stop violence.
The truth is that no amount of money being pumped in to the study and treatment of mental illness will stop violence
The truth is that no change by Hollywood wills stop the violent acts of others.
The truth, when it comes down to it, is that only heart transformation through the Spirit of God will bring an end to violence. Only when the world realizes the true nature of Jesus the Messiah and places their complete and total life in his hands will we see an end to tragedies like this.
It is in the Messiah that we see the promise that people will turn their swords into plowshares. That in Christ people willingly lay down their weapons of violence and choose a life of peace.
It is in the Messiah that those of all all mental capacities find healing and love and community. Jesus healed, loved, and communed with those that society rejected and marginalized.
It is in the Messiah that we lose our appetite for violence, as we become desperate for the peace and hope and unity that is found in His church alone.
I am slow to remember these truths when tragedy hits. But once I remember, it leaves me wanting to simply call Christians into action. Be the loving, peaceful, hope for the hopeless, light to the darkness, good news bearers of Jesus.