I am not one to make light of others’ tragedy. The funerals held this week and the pain being felt by the families of the victims of yet another mass murder in Oregon is real and heartbreaking. We have an epidemic of violence on our hands and it is being played out every day in our cities and our communities. Many of us have been touched by the senseless loss of life at the hands of an irrational person. These homicides all have one thing in common.
A study released in 2013 revealed the methods of homicide employed in the United States. You may or may not be surprised at the various methods used to maliciously take someone’s life.
*Handguns; 5,782 (75% by gang activity with guns acquired illegally)
*Misc. non-classified: 850
*Hands, feet, body; 687
*Blunt objects (Clubs, bats, hammers, etc); 428
*Poisoning by drugs; 64
Whenever a life is lost it is a tragedy. Our attention is systematically and intentionally drawn to multiple homicides while in any given large city double figure homicide totals are a daily occurrence that garners no national or social media but are tragic to the victims families just the same. We do have control problem in America, as the numbers above indicate, but it isn’t necessarily the problem that is being fed to us by those who would politicize a tragedy to advance a social agenda. The one common denominator in the homicides listed above is not a gun or a particular method. The problem we have in America is uncontrolled HATE.
Hate is an uncontrollable cancer that has been the demise of literal millions or people throughout history. Entire races of people have been decimated by those whose fear of them nurtured a seed of hatred that grew into a rage of arrogance and superiority over another. While we think this lends itself more to countries or ethnicities, just think about your last drive on a busy interstate or that rude waiter at the restaurant. Our nature is one of self-importance and priority. If we are insulted, inconvenienced, cut off on the road or cheated on, we pull the victim hate card from our inside pocket and proceed to have our justice and our entitled satisfaction. We hate what we don’t accept, understand or identify with. We hate gays, blacks, whites, liberals, atheists, Christians, Baptists, Muslims, short people, tall people, heavy people, gingers, and on and on and on. Tragically some hate themselves and take out that hatred on unsuspecting innocent victims.
Mental illness and drug abuse has been cited as a possible cause of recent multiple homicides. One wouldn’t have to make much of a stretch to suggest that anyone capable of taking a life must have a screw or two loose. But this argument is a diversion of the real underlying problem. Many have said that alcohol is the ultimate truth serum. When one has a drink too many, the real person kept private in sobriety is revealed for the world to see. Alcohol abuse serves to reveal the monster lurking inside. If so then the same should be said of drug abuse and mental illness, as being mere indicators of the core person that is no longer able to control the beast. It is not the method of homicide that should be further legislated. What should be scrutinized is society’s raging hate, how we got to this point and what, if anything can be done to recognize it and control it to avert further tragedies.
1 John 3:15 says this about hate:” Anyone who hates their brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.”
I’m no authority on the human condition. I am an authority on my response mechanisms and how the natural fleshly part of me can be consumed with intolerance for others at times. Even the Apostle Paul acknowledged the monster he had to chain daily. Those who have tasted of God’s grace and have been made new creations stand a fighting chance and controlling the hate that leads to death. If you can demonstrate to me with any credibility that tougher laws would control hate, I’ll be your biggest supporter. Show me where to vote to outlaw hatred and make it more difficult to obtain-I’ll be all over it. Assuming that won’t ever happen, resolve to love your enemies and pray for those who spitefully use you and don’t go to bed with hatred in your heart. Don’t be caught up in numbers, remembering that the Good Shepherd left the 99 to search for the one, signifying that every life matters, even if only taken one at a time outside of the spotlight and in the dark alleys of our own neighborhoods.