Thursday, December 27, 2012

What are we doing here?

Since the shootings at the school in Connecticut I've been thinking about the conversations I've heard about how such a thing could happen. Some people say guns don't kill people, people kill people. Some people say it's strictly a matter of getting guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. I am not anti-gun, I think it is both guns AND people that kill people.Unless we uninvent the gun, people are going to get killed by guns. Some would argue that we simply need more capability to help the mentally ill, which I can't argue with, but at what cost? And by that I mean, how many who have been diagnosed with 'a disorder' will suddenly be branded 'mentally ill'? It seems there are more disorders than there are people these days, so who gets to decide who is next in line for help? Won't there still be cracks for people to fall through?

I would argue that it is neither a guns issue nor a mental illness issue. It isn't something that we can eradicate with laws or an overhaul of our mental health system. It goes much deeper than that. I believe it is a condition called 'evil'. In some circles it might be called the depravity of mankind. We are evil. Yes, that said WE. While it's easy to point our finger at the violent acts around us and argue that surely we aren't THAT evil. I agree that most of us don't act in what's known in an evil way, but I'm talking about evil as an overarching behavior. For example: I saw a man walking down the street on Christmas Day with a ragged backpack on his back and what I suppose was supposed to be his sleeping bag in his hand and I thought to myself  'wow, how awful must it be to be homeless on Christmas Day'...and continued to drive home to my warm house. Not an ACT of evil, but evil, nonetheless. We tend to think of evil as if it's at the far end of the man made scale of  'badness'. Which one of us doesn't have leftovers in the fridge that will likely be tossed out soon while a large portion of our world starves to death? Evil? I think so. Perhaps the worst evil we do is to ourselves when we let the callous on our heart thicken and deaden our compassion for others. I am doing it right now by using 'we' instead of 'I'.

My point is this: We will not stop evil unless we are aware of it in our own lives and then strive, with the help of God, to use the heart He gave us to act kindly toward each other. We can't change the whole world, at least not in one fell swoop, but we can change to the point where our circle of influence is changed and each person's circle of influence touches someone else's circle and so on. Kindness comes from love. That is why, I believe, God tells us to love one another. It's the most important, most challenging thing there is. And while it won't reverse the depravity of man, it might just slow the swing the pendulum seems to be on.