Sunday, December 16, 2012
For Hate Is Strong
a few days ago, we listened in horror as the events in connecticut were reported on television. we were guests in the home of relatives, one of whom watches a 24-hour news source that is, to my mind, quite biased. in the afternoon one of this news network’s commentators had another of the network’s “stars” as his guest. this guest on the show is an ordained minister, a former state governor and presidential candidate, and is now a media personality with a nightly talk show on this particular network.
as i listened while passing through the room where the television was playing, i heard him say it was inevitable that we would have such violence in school since “we have systematically removed God from our schools.” the fact that the shooter was not an employee or student of the school, but was instead someone that had been admitted to the school as a guest, was somehow connected to this “systematic” godlessness in our schools. never mind that this commentator/“expert” is an advocate of measures that would dismantle the system of pubic education in this country.
as i thought about his statement, i recalled my own education when “God” was supposed to have been present in public schools. we had our share of fights in school, we had just as many bullies (perhaps more), the artificial “popularity contest” was rampant, and those who were “odd” in any way were ostracized, just as they (we) are now. where was this “God” then? certainly, we didn’t have instances of such violence as we saw in connecticut, which appears to have nothing to do with the school in which it took place, except that the school was a convenient place for this person to wreak mass havoc. had a shopping mall been handy, as it was only a few days ago in oregon, that mall might have been his target. i suppose the violence in the oregon mall was a result of the “systematic removal of God” from our christmas shopping experiences!
how absurd it is to suggest that God can be removed, systematically or in any other fashion, from any place if one believes in a God who creates and is present in everything. we are a nation founded on the principle that the state and its institutions, like public schools, should not be agents to advocate any religion, that all government entities should be religion-neutral.
violence anywhere is the result of the evil that lurks in our hearts along with the good. perhaps we make gun violence easy by our insistence that any gun control laws impinge on our citizens’ right to keep and bear arms, despite the widespread evidence that limiting ownership of non-hunting, non-self defense weapons reduces gun violence of all kinds. it is unfortunate that we live in a society that seems prone to violence of all sorts, but there is no evidence that religious belief or the lack thereof has a bearing on the propensity for violence.
the antidote for this violence is learning to see others as being worthy of love. respect for life and placing the desire to do good for others ahead of one’s own desires for meaningless possessions and prestige will counter the savage impulses that permeate american society if we make those more worthy parts of nature a higher priority than the promotion of a ruthless individualism.
my prayer is that we will eschew those qualities that promote ruthlessness, selfishness, and egotism and espouse qualities that flow from loving-kindness. shalom.