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Friday, February 23, 2018

What's the Big Deal About School Shootings?

If the title of this article brought one word to mind: TROLL, I guess I don't blame you. Please know: I honestly don't intend to try to tweak and trigger people on a this very sensitive topic. I also don't make light of anyone's loss of life. But I do want to explore the issues from a number of different angles. 

This isn't about politics, either. I could care less what Republicans or Democrats think. This article is about people, people and beliefs, double standards and paradoxes, problems and solutions. I apologize in advance for my own ignorance on these issues. I'm not an authority the way the world defines authority. But I am a teacher and a father and above all else, a Christian—I won't be silent because I'm not an authority on gun violence because that kind of authority isn't necessary to discuss issues of the heart and mind.



Why the title? What's the big deal about school shootings? If I'm being anything, it's not snarky, but rather ironic on purpose. Frankly, I don't think we're disturbed enough about this issue. And IMHO most of the discussion I've read on the topic shows that we're really looking at the most superficial sides of this. I ask what's the big deal because, honestly, what did anyone expect? 

The headlines are horrific, but can anyone honestly take a look at our society and be surprised that disturbed people, especially youths, are reaching for weapons to end the lives of others and, many times, their own? Remember, we're the society that set up naturalism as THE god to worship. Big court cases like The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes, Roe v. Wade, Engel v. Vitale,
Abington School District v. Schempp, and a thousand others have taught our nation that we are all alone in this world. There is nothing beyond ourselves. No God. No reason to be here other than we are here and might as well make the best of it. What did we expect to happen in such a nation as this? 



Remember also that we are the society hopelessly addicted to drugs, legal and illegal. Why? Trying to make the best of it. Why? Trying to escape from a hopeless reality. Why? Because we're trying to numb and blunt that nagging sense that things aren't the way they should be. We are the nation that protects pornography as a freedom of speech. We are the nation that fosters endless cycles of exploitation and abuse and offers self-based, humanistic counseling for the win. 

Why are we surprised that people, including teens, are so angry and violent? So disturbed and distorted? Recognize that we are the nation that glorifies the action heroes who, in the movies and now the endless entertainment streaming, mow down scores of people with assault weapons, flamethrowers, grenades, etc. ad infinitum. We are the nation that allows our kids to play ultra realistic violent video games so often that households all over the country can hear their kids and teens reveling in things like "headshots" and "number of kills." Where are the parents? What makes anyone think this is okay? But we allow it. Sometimes, we play the games with our kids. 

We are the nation who purposefully distorted the term "freedom" to mean anything we want. We have banned the word "no" from our reality, and we are suffering dearly for it. Frequent sex outside of marriage, easy divorce, one-parent families, alternate identities and genders? We've got it all, now, and more coming. And we sing out that it's all for the best. Is it any wonder that our kids—and our society—are coming apart? 

Finally, we are the nation who over the past 10-15 years has all but outlawed intelligent, reasoned discussions on ANY controversial issue. We've become a name-calling nation of whiners, choosing not to think rationally about issues because we can always brand someone with "hate speech" or "homophobe" or "racist" or some other conversation-ending misnomer. We are a nation that wants what it wants, whenever it wants, and crucifies anyone who says it ought to be different. So, why the heck are we surprised when people are gunned down in Vegas or in one of our schools? 

Here's the pivot: not being surprised does not mean we can all throw our hands up in submission. It doesn't mean we get to say, well, we brought it on ourselves, so guess we'll just have to endure it. No. No. And…No. 

First off, we each personally need to repent, ie: turn around, agree that wrong things are wrong things, that God is the arbiter of truth and that God, by the way, isn't our stomach. We need to repent as a nation. How? I wish I knew. It's not as simple as "allowing" prayer in school. I don't believe the law against prayer in school really did anything to ban prayer in school. Prayer was never meant to be a big public showy thing anyway. Short of brainwashing people of faith, you will never stop prayer in schools. It's more than having government and schools turn into some kind of theocracies where we give lip service to the Almighty and then go on our merry way. But we desperately need to stop preaching meaninglessness to our people. You want to be an atheist? Fine. You want to believe in evolution? Fine. But don't you dare establish the scientifically detectable world as the reason for everything such that love and dreams and purpose and meaning are beaten out of our kids.

Getting to more of the specifics: what about assault rifles and such? Here's where I must plead more ignorance because I just don't get the double standards that exist so openly in this society, often including Christians. I don't understand how someone can be fiercely pro-life and ALSO fiercely pro-assault weapons. Assault weapons were designed for killing people, for warfare. There's no human being in this nation who needs or deserves an assault rifle. And please don't give me that garbage about protecting ourselves from a government gone bad. Follow that thread through. If the government went bad, do you think even ten million civilian citizens with assault rifles could win the day? Get real. If our government ever went bad (or I should say went to the worst), they could kill and destroy with impunity. 



As far as I can tell from the most recent articles, I don't see anyone trying to ban ALL guns. But assault rifles? Ban them. I don't think for a moment that legislating a ban on assault rifles will keep determined people from getting them, but if we can keep one disturbed teenager from getting one and shooting up a school, shouldn't we? And on that subject, why are we avoiding the most common sense suggestions for stopping violence in schools? We should have a branch of the FBI or some other specialized law enforcement Anti School Violence Division put together and fund working state-of-the-art metal detectors in all schools! How can this not be law already? Money? I'm sure. Politics? Most definitely. Still it's unconscionable to not have metal detectors in all schools. I can't be certain, but I suspect that those metal detectors could even be funded by the private sector. If my kids' schools asked me to donate toward a metal detector fund, they can take my money now. And speaking of the new Anti School Violence Division, why not have at least one highly-trained officer stationed to run those metal detectors and patrol the schools? 

Again, banning assault rifles won't solve the problems of the human heart. After all, there are nearly four times as many knife killings in the US each year than assault rifles. But we've got to do something. 

If you're a young person (or person of any age), please know you are NOT a cosmic accident. You were created by God as a one-of-a-kind, priceless masterpiece. God is real. He loves you. You have ultimate meaning, and no, this life is not all their is. Your life matters to God. Your identity matters to God. There is such a thing as right and wrong, and we need to reject the wrong. We need to turn to the lifeline God offers us by believing in Jesus for the forgiveness of all our personal wrongs. We need to seek God and love God. We need to let Him show us how to love and, in the words of the Black Panther, look after each other. How can I be so sure? The Bible is one reason. No other book on earth is like the Bible. Do some homework. Read up about how unique and reliable the Bible is. Personal experience is another reason. I've seen 20 year alcoholics cured in an instant. There are inexplicable healings every single day, well inexplicable but for God. I've felt the scriptures resonate within me. I've seen and felt unconditional love. But the greatest reasons boil down to common sense:

1) How can this world have come together by itself? Do you know what the odds against it are? I've heard it likened to the odds of throwing thousands of alphabet letters into a great bin, mixing them up, and then pulling them out one letter at a time and resulting in Shakespeare's complete works. 

2) How can this world be all that there is? If we're honest, none of us are completely satisfied by this world. We might claim to be. We might even have deluded ourselves into believing that we are. But most honest people will tell you there is a thirst for something we can't seem to find. There's a hunger for a food this earth doesn't provide. And there's a desperate need for a love that people, try as they might, just cannot fulfill. 

3) It is ALL a question of faith. Which faith will you choose? Evolution is a theory. Creation is a theory. None of us were there at the beginning to see what happened. Science does NOT have everything figured out. In fact, by definition, science can only describe what is observable. It cannot tell you how it all began. It cannot tell you why you fall in love. It cannot tell you what happens after we die. Science depends on the natural world, so by definition it must ignore the supernatural. But make no mistake, naturalism, atheism, humanism—are all belief systems. Dig deep enough, you will find the massive leaps of faith in all these systems. To be fair, Christianity has some massive leaps of faith as well, but it does, after all, claim to be a faith. If you boil it all down, you either believe in an intelligent, loving eternal God who created the world and offers hope to mankind -or- you believe in a blind eternal particle that somehow turned into all that we know and offers no hope for anything or anyone. If you choose to believe the latter, don't you think we've already seen where that road leads? All you have to do is read the headlines.
 



6 comments:

Brian Gorman said...

Mr. Batson, I appreciate your willingness to see the absurdity of these assault rifles, and I especially appreciate you connecting issues of abortion to issues of life after birth. And while I don’t entirely disagree with all of your analysis of the situation, I do think an honest, humble Christian reflection also requires to acknowledge that the church is to blame for much of this as well. Not because we have so-called liberal and conservative churches per se, because I don’t believe that theological differences in themselves automatically amount to being bad , but because much of the church has been so narrowly focused on things like abortion and gay marriage that they have ignored both the gospel call to care for the poor, as well as resisting the rise of violence not only in video games, but in the police force and the military. Out of the mouths of Christians we hear not the gospel or the words of Jesus, but the words of the NRA and the Constitution, defending the right to own and use a gun above the right to live, As if it those were our sacred scripture and inspiration. The Parkland shooting did not happen because of gay marriage or abortion or gender identity issues, but because of the culture of guns and violence that this country and much of the church continue to worship.

Thank you for trying to engage with this through a Christian lens first and encouraging others to do the same. Let us always remember that the example Jesus set for us, to never repay violence with violence, and that true Christian Suffering is suffering which we choose to undergo in order to be like Christ, meaning we would rather have violence done to us than to do it to others.

WayneThomasBatson said...

Thank you for your insights, Brian. I appreciate the "full" perspective. And, honestly, I couldn't agree more. The church bears MUCH of the blame. By being sinful ourselves, we've given the rest of the nation more reason to doubt. By abdicating our role as influencers, we've often lost touch with "be in the world; not of the world."

Anonymous said...

This whole issue is complex. I think there are things that we aren't taking into consideration, when we look at the whole gun shooting issue. There are several things I think we need to ask ourselves.

One of them is, how many shootings have been stopped because of other people (civilian or others) were able to intervene and stop the shooter before it went too far? I'm not saying everyone should be carrying a gun, but I do believe it's something we should think about and look into.

Another thing is, what type of medication was the shooter on, when they started shooting? The reason I ask this, is because there has been some strong correlations between meds that people have been on, and shootings. Read people who have been on ADD/ADHD medicines, and others on psychotropic drugs, and let them tell you how they've felt and what they've thought.

What about the question of how far do we carry this? Ban assault rifles, guns, knives, fists? Honestly, if you ban one thing, the bad guys will just find something as powerful (or make something as powerful) that they'll use. I'm not saying that this defeats the purpose, but it is something we need to think about.

I agree that it is an issue of sin and morality. But I don't think we need to go so far as say that "The church is to blame". Really? Do we say that Lot, a righteous man (2 Pet. 2), was to blame for Sodom and Gomorrah's downfall and the gross immorality that they portrayed?

Do we say that the new testament church was to blame for the various problems that were prevalent in that time period? Absolutely not!

I won't deny that the church has to remember the full scope of the gospel. But just because we see shootings in our day, doesn't mean that we're to blame.

What is to blame? Sin. It's what drives people to do evil deeds. It's a wonder that more schools don't get shot up. But it's the grace of God that holds people back from being the most lawless that they can be. I thank God that he has done this, and doesn't allow everything and everyone to be as sinful, lawless, evil, and wicked as they can be.

Just my two cents,

Andrew

S Kent said...

Mr. Batson I appreciate your honesty about all this but I do want to point something out. I have done many studies on the subject and read some eye opening books about video game violence. The thing is that it does not cause aggression in children or teens. It does not cause an increase in violence either. Even if it is realisitic it still is fantasy violence and young people can distinguish fantasy from reality. Violent video games or violent play on the playground are no different. When kids pretend to play cops and robbers and play with imaginary guns it is actually helpful to them. It helps them to get out their aggression in a non-harmful way. It lets them experience the feelings associated with power and control that their young minds need to learn about. I used to think the same thing as you and most adults that violence in video games and movies causes young people to become violent but after all the research and study it just isn't the case. Real violence and tragedies shown in the media is more a cause of violence in young people than fantasy violence in video games and movies. There is a book called "Killing Monsters" which I think was very helpful when trying to find out more about this topic. Never Alone.

S Kent said...

Mr. Batson I appreciate your honesty about all this but I do want to point something out. I have done many studies on the subject and read some eye opening books about video game violence. The thing is that it does not cause aggression in children or teens. It does not cause an increase in violence either. Even if it is realisitic it still is fantasy violence and young people can distinguish fantasy from reality. Violent video games or violent play on the playground are no different. When kids pretend to play cops and robbers and play with imaginary guns it is actually helpful to them. It helps them to get out their aggression in a non-harmful way. It lets them experience the feelings associated with power and control that their young minds need to learn about. I used to think the same thing as you and most adults that violence in video games and movies causes young people to become violent but after all the research and study it just isn't the case. Real violence and tragedies shown in the media is more a cause of violence in young people than fantasy violence in video games and movies. There is a book called "Killing Monsters" which I think was very helpful when trying to find out more about this topic. Never Alone.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Batson, I could not disagree with you more on the issue of guns, but I'm not here to try and change your mind. Instead I would like to thank you, for being willing to speak up for what you think is right even if it may be unpopular with your fans, and also for remaining rational and respectful I a debate that as you so rightly pointed out is full of name calling and whining. both of those thing took integrity and courage and I respect you for that

your disagreeing but loving brother in Christ