We find ourselves, yet again, as Americans doing some serious soul-searching after last week's incident of gun violence. Two young journalists gunned down on live TV in a chilling video clip that's been seen by millions the world over. The assailant, hours later, taking his own life.
Several times a year, individuals commit callous acts of violence and catapult the issue of gun violence back to center stage. Within hours of the attack, Twitter was alive with people calling for more gun control, including many from the international community. Political leaders, too, entered into the fray. I hate the specter of gun violence and the devastation that it causes in mere seconds. I don't want any person or family to suffer at the hands of a criminal armed with a gun. So how do we stop this?
I invite us to take this opportunity to stop talking about gun control as a political issue. We've seen in shooting after shooting that it's all talk, and no action. In essence, I don't believe that guns are the problem, just as cars aren’t the problem in DUI deaths. People using these tools irresponsibly are the problem. We hear about mass shootings, but we don't hear about the millions of Americans who own guns legally and responsibly. In many cases, as in this most recent one, the firearms were purchased legally. Logic tells me that gun control isn't the problem.
Gun violence is symptomatic of a larger societal problem. We've devolved into a society that has started deciding which life has value and which life doesn't. We pick who deserves to be protected and cherished, and who doesn't.
We're a society that doesn't value the lives of the young or the old. Babies are subject to abortion at the sole “choice" of the mother, and the old are increasingly given legal options to prematurely end their lives. That kind of power exerts tremendous pressure on those involved. Scared mothers are pressured by lowlife boyfriends, the elderly feel pressure, intended or otherwise, to not be a "burden."
We're a society that doesn't honor women. We don't respect them and the station that they hold as protectors and bearers of life. Contraception and abortion were meant to be the great liberators of women, and instead it has completely subjugated them. Women are now sexual objects whose sole purpose is to satisfy the desires of men, without the man having to worry about creating a child or the responsibility of raising that child. In turn, this has led to the plague-like spread of online pornography accessible in an instant, by anyone, anonymously.
We're a society that uses the legality of the death penalty far too loosely. We have the ability to safely protect society from those who commit violent crime, yet, we still routinely execute inmates. These executions are based on past behavior, often decades in the past, and not out of a necessity to defend ourselves. If an inmate continued to pursue escape attempts or habitually committed violent acts against fellow inmates or guards while incarcerated, there could be a logical argument for using the death penalty for self-defense purposes. Yet, it isn’t just those on Death Row who are marginalized. Criminals, once having paid their debt to society, find it nearly impossible to turn their lives around on the outside and find themselves incarcerated again.
These things are all tied together. Children aren't precious, the elderly aren't precious, women aren't precious, actors in pornography aren't precious, convicted inmates aren't precious. Life is not precious.
This isn't the Gospel that we claim to believe. This isn't the people we imagine ourselves to be. This isn't a just society. One cannot condemn gun violence and then demand unrestricted access to abortion. The logic isn't sound.
Change in society takes time, and it takes a massive group of people making a concerted effort to raise the consciousness of society to effect real change. Instead of condemning the devaluing of some human life, let's start celebrating all human life. Let’s be kind to our neighbors, be merciful in our speech and teach our children the value of loving others and building them up as opposed to tearing them down.
Let's live the life that Christ called us to live. Only then can we truly be free.