Making Sense of a World Without It

I did not want to write about the shootings the last few days. I deliberately avoided it. First off, I do not want to give any more notice than possible to people so hateful and callous they will perform these heinous, unjustifiable acts. I will not give their names here. They are not worthy of my typing them.

Furthermore, I would by and large be covering ground that you have already heard numerous times. After all, we will hear the same things over and over and over.

People who knew neither the shooters nor any of their victims will say, and mean, "our thoughts and prayers are with them".  Practicing atheists and agnostics will say much the same. And this is probably a good thing, a broad social cathartic maneuver with empty meaning on the whole but great meaning for specific individuals.

The anti-gun crowd will point and say, "see? THIS is why we need gun control, to keep this from happening."

The pro-gun crowd will point and say, "See? This is what happens when only criminals have guns, check out these statistics saying in places people carry guns it does not happen."

Others of us will sit quietly on the sidelines saying, "Really? This is how you want to make your points? You are all right and you are both wrong. And you are using hatred, bitterness and anger as a political tool. All of you are trading on the misery of others.

However, if you spend...what, 10 seconds? watching the news, reading the news, hearing someone else discuss the news, you will hear all these things ad infinitum.

People will hold candle light vigils.

Discussions will be held on how nice the people who committed these crimes were and how unexpected that they could do this, how universally wonderful their victims were, how much they will be missed and how to prevent it.

To those discussions, most of which you can simply replay from the last similar event, I have nothing to add.

On a broader scale, however, I DO have something to add.

From a purely anecdotal standpoint, the frequency of these things seems to be increasing. It is an open question whether these events are more common or we are simply a more aware world today where access to information allows us to keep abreast of events across a much greater distance.

Regardless, in many ways the saying "perception is reality" kicks in. Whether they are more frequent or just SEEM more frequent, the result is increased awareness. It is not an isolated thing to have someone so disaffected they feel the correct thing for them to do is to go on a murderous rampage.

I did not understand them. I do not now. Most people do not.

And yet...we do.

Remember Columbine? Not that the actions were justified, but in a sense the blame was leveled on others; these kids deliberately chose outlying things to be interested in. Their resulting unpopularity led them to consider themselves...and largely be considered...outcasts.

Somehow they came to the idea that the right choice was to commit suicide and take a bunch of people with them.

Inexcusable as it was, non-sensical as their actions, the resulting outcry included assigning blame to people who may or may not have picked on them. It made sense, they were avenging their unhappy lives.

Others tried to emulate them. Their fame grew to where many people even today know their names. In murder they became more successful than they ever were in life.

And people "got" the people who tried to commit the same acts on later anniversaries, just as they did when people bombed the Oklahoma City building. They did not agree with the actions, but in the attempt to use that anniversary as a motivation to perform similar acts, people found understanding.

It made a sick, twisted sort of sense.

Then some random guy shoots up the midnight screening of a movie. It made no sense. What could he have against these random people?

Then the Clackamas shooting came along. Young person goes in and shoots RANDOM PEOPLE. These were not government officials or an emblem of government power. These were not classmates who had picked on him. They were not friends, relatives, ex-girlfriends, teachers, co-workers.

As sick as it is, when someone murders those people, we as a society "understand it", filling the air with platitudes about not understanding it, never condoning it, but underneath the relationship at least channels where the violence is directed.

Not so in Clackamas. Random people. It could have just as easily been the Mall of the Americas or a store in Podunk, Kansas. Even though I (to the best of my knowledge) have not been around someone who got fired or was picked on or had their spouse taken from them, I am now a potential victim simply by living my life.

This has no easy reason to say it is not me who is a potential victim. In a series of senseless acts that at least have the modicum of structure, this is one that is truly random, guided solely by proximity to the individual whom I do not know.

How did we get here?

Someone somewhere right now is calling out the influence of death metal, of the music of people like Marilyn Manson or whoever the current equivalent is. Someone somewhere is calling out violent video games like Hitman, Grand Theft Auto, Halo, etc and saying we are desensitized to violence. Someone is calling out the removal of prayer from schools. Someone is talking about bullying and/or hazing.

And maybe they are on to something. We have "progressed" a long way. We teach kids their self-esteem is more important than learning how to do things. We teach kids there is no God to answer to and that we are just animals. We teach people to forget self-control in the interest of "letting your feelings show." We teach our kids that "being different is okay and not following the norms and mores of society is a good thing". We teach our kids that murder is okay as long as it is done with good intentions. We teach our kids that irreverence is a good thing. That promises mean nothing, that marriage is a disposable institution, that "birth parents" have no responsibility towards kids, nor do kids have responsibilities towards their parents. We teach that right and wrong are determined solely but what the loudest voices in society say is right or wrong.

And when you get done with this mish-mash of "nothing really means anything except what you personally decide is important" we teach there is no point to life, no consequence for misbehavior and indeed there is glory to be had by committing acts that will bring outrage but which no longer can really be called immoral in the light of societies teachings.

In a world in which authority is something to be reviled and disobeyed if one wishes to be accepted, cool and intelligent, in which right and wrong are malleable and subject to social whims, how can we say someone is wrong for taking it to its natural conclusion and acting like an animal? Indeed, they are the pinnacle of evolution if these things are true and should be held up as heroes rather than reviled as the despicable creatures they are.

One need look no further than many popular television series held up as wonderful to see what we are pushing. Dexter, the murderer who "only kills bad guys". The Borgias, 'the first crime family". The Sopranos. "Reality" shows like Mob Wives. Shows that glorify extra-marital sex or same-gender relationships like Friends, Modern Family, etc. Games like Assassins Creed. The popular Twilight series built on concepts like Interview With a Vampire and the Underworld series to turn evil such as vampires and other mythical undead creatures...zombies come to mind...into the heroes.

The Scripture says "woe to those call good 'evil' and evil 'good'". We have a society today that does exactly this on so many fronts.

And sadly, while I find these people completely reprehensible and indefensible...I understand them. I also believe we will continue to produce these people. At some point the shooter will be someone TRULY shocking; someone with a wildly successful business life, a loved and flourishing family, everything to live for...and one day for who knows what reason they will be the one pulling a trigger or planting a bomb or clubbing or knifing people to death.

It is inevitable.

We have rejected God, denied his truths and replaced them with our own, denied any authority exists and turned into a shattered society. We have taken evil and turned it into the heroes and taken heroes and turned them into villains.

And then we are shocked when people act like the new-style heroes.

The question is, should we be? I suspect what we should really do is get used to candle light vigils for fallen strangers, losing people close to us to senseless acts, and looking over our shoulder because this garbage is going to continue and get worse.

So much more to say but it makes me sick to my stomach and this is all I can get out. I can't even finish.

In the interest of full disclosure; I own a rifle. In fact, I think I own 2 or 3. I was given a .22 by my Grandpa, a 30-30 by my dad, and another .22 by my Grandpa which in later years it was forgotten it had been given to me and was then given to someone else.

I do not know where any of them are; somewhere at Dad's house, I think, and in truth, I mostly own them in memory. I do not believe there is any documentation stating I own them anywhere, and I do not care. I have not touched one in decades, not out of like or dislike, but simply because other things have occupied my time and interest.

I could write a long treatise on the meaning of "the right to bear arms" and its purpose for being included but is this really the time or place for it?

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