Friday, June 19, 2015

Deja Vue

I feel like I’ve entered a time warp, and we aren’t in 2015 anymore but back in the 1960s. We’ve had riots in the streets (in Ferguson and Baltimore). We’ve had a racially-motivated killing of 9 people in a church in Charleston, reminding us of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963. It’s enough to make you think we’ve made very little progress in this country in the area of race relations. Hearing of this senseless shooting and mass murder, our emotions ran from outrage to frustration to despair – how can this be happening 50 years later?

Race relations is a complex and emotionally-charged subject, and goes well beyond the scope of this blog. Nevertheless I’d like to share a few thoughts that you may, or may not, agree with, but at least I’m giving you something to think about.

Isolated Incident

Like many of the school shootings we’ve experienced over the past 15years or so, this church mass murder in Charleston was the work of a single deranged person. The shooter doesn’t represent a broad consensus, so I don’t believe we can interpret this shooting as something that has been widely supported. We are always going to have mentally disturbed people with guns out there, and we are always going to have extreme bigots. So mass murders will continue to happen, hopefully with much less frequency.

While race was certainly a factor in this terrible crime, that doesn’t mean there are many others just waiting to shoot or otherwise harm minorities. Despite a person’s dislike for a particular group, most are not going to engage in mass killings.

Was this shooting a Hate Crime?

I’m not familiar with the provisions of the Hate Crime laws, but the message the shooter gave to the woman he spared leaves no doubt that he wanted to kill black people because of what he perceives they are doing to this country.

As far as I’m concerned, I really don’t care whether it’s a “hate crime” or not. He murdered 9 people in cold blood, and that’s enough for me. He should receive the death penalty.

Violent Society

Why do we have all these school and other shootings in the US, but such violence is rare in other industrialized countries?

Sadly we are a violent society. We have gang wars, armed robberies, muggings, violence against women, and a host of other violent acts with much greater frequency than other industrialized nation.

Our country was formed out of the violence of the Revolutionary War, the Union was preserved by the violence of the Civil War, and we settled the West using the violence of fighting the Indians. Our mentality is often “might makes right” and we may turn to violent acts to get our way or make a statement. For example, anti-war or calls for justice demonstrations can turn violent. You can’t legitimately call for peace and justice while you are burning and looting.

As our society continues to deteriorate and drifts further away from the Judeo-Christian ethic, there will be less respect for people, more prejudice, and probably more violence. If the people don’t have a moral compass, there’s anarchy. We need to change hearts.

How do you change people’s hearts?

I believe there is only one way that is most effective, and that is to have a personal relationship with God, and learn the Bible so you understand biblical principles (many of which tell us how to behave). Becoming a Christian or getting in touch with your Jewish roots point you in the right direction concerning how you view others (made in God’s image), ourselves, and God.

Political correctness won’t do it. Only God can change your heart. We become transformed people when we follow Christ. The sooner this country turns back to the faith of our fathers, the sooner society will improve and the violence is diminished.

Lastly, is the wide availability of guns responsible for this carnage?

When President Obama made a televised statement on the shooting in Charleston, he let an opportunity go by to say something meaningful. Instead, he dredged up gun control as the best way to reduce the killings. Certainly gun control has its place, and closing the loopholes in the current laws will go far in keeping guns out of the hands of deranged individuals.

However, if a person is determined to commit murder, there are knives and other means of killing. So gun control goes only so far. What his country needs is a change of heart and better care and monitoring of the mentally ill.

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