There’s no shortage of well- expressed sympathy, frustration, evaluation, and anger over the recent shooting massacre at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.
Much more will be written and debated about guns and possible preventative steps to curtail such slaughter. Some of these ideas, in particular about the need to devote more comprehensive attention to mental health in America, certainly are valid. I also wonder, since the vast majority of the killers are men–and in particular younger men, does this demographic segment merit concentrated attention?
The problem, of course, is that murder is ingrained in the human race. In the Bible, just eight verses after Adam and Eve exited the Garden of Eden, one of two fine sons killed his brother—the first murder (Genesis 4:8). Cain’s assault weapon was not identified, but for sure it wasn’t a gun.
When a horrific outrage like Sandy Hook occurs, most of us feel helpless. What can any of us possibly do to face down the evil in the world? Some of humanity’s ills, like racism, world hunger, trafficking, and random violence, seem so monumental and complicated that we throw up our hands and retreat to our email and another cup of coffee.
There is one thing all us can do, however, that will make a difference: We can stop killing people ourselves.
Here’s a famous quote: “’You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, “Do not murder.” I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother “idiot!” and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell “stupid!” at a sister and you are on the brink of hell fire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.’”
Martin Luther King or Mother Teresa didn’t say that. Jesus said that. (Matthew 5:21-22, The Message)
Oh. No! I see a killer in my mirror. I’ve been angry like that many times. And I would have welcomed the chance to shoot any one of these mass murderers…
Among many of Jesus’ tasks on earth was to present a seminar on the kingdom of God, which consists in large part of small, seemingly random attitudes, actions, events. The primary setting of the kingdom is the human heart, where decisions are made about what to do or not to do. In other words, it’s the “small,” often unseen things that have major consequences in the “real world.”
At last your faithful “bleater” arrives at today’s point: All of us have a choice about how we will treat the people we live, work, and interact with. In my heart and yours are those competing dispositions to be either the Cain who murders or the Cain who brings life.
Our world is full of people hungry for love, desperate for even a crumb of attention and encouragement. When you don’t feel loved or noticed, you hurt. And hurt leads to anger. And fear. The devil’s playpen is a mind and heart polluted with such anguish.
When we see the empty eyes, the sagging cheeks, the drooping shoulders—in those we know and in strangers—there’s a choice given us: we can choose to murder with our indifference or give life with the smallest smile or briefest recognition. These are the tiny, mighty seeds of love and peace that advance God’s good plans on earth.
All the murders won’t be stopped by such kind, kingdom deeds. But they are something we can do.