Sunday, April 12, 2009

A season of darkness

For people of faith worldwide, this time of year is always a period of intense personal reflection.

Christians are currently observing a holiday period that deals with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jewish people are observing Passover, and there are other faiths that are engaged in special religious services.

With so much focus on spirituality, one might expect our society to be going through a period of enlightenment. However, this is not happening at all.

In the last six weeks or so, there have been a series of mass killings in America that have been shocking and senseless.

On the first Friday in April, a man walked into an immigration services center in New York and killed 13 people before killing himself.

On March 29, two similar crimes took place. In Santa Clara, Calif., a man killed his two children and three other relatives before killing himself. In Carthage, N.C., a man walked into a health and rehabilitation center and murdered eight people before being shot down by police.

On March 10, a man killed 10 in Alabama before committing suicide. Also last month, a man murdered four Oakland, Calif., police officers.

I wish I could say that these mass killings were a new phenomenon, but we all know that is not true. Whether it was the holocaust during World War II or the killing fields of Cambodia during Pol Pot's reign, crimes against humanity on a grand scale are nothing new.

While these recent crimes do not reach the level of those two examples, do not tell that to the victim’s loved ones. When somebody a person loves is a victim of a killer, it does not matter how large the scope of the crime is.

The frequency of these current crimes is unnerving. Sometimes, we will hear about "copy cat" crimes where a specific crime will inspire others to commit the same type of crime. Many times, this inspiration occurs on a subconscious level so it can be difficult to detect whether a person is planning an outburst.

I do not know if these current crimes fit under the "copy cat" category, but to use an old cliché, when one domino tumbles it makes it that much easier for the next one to fall.

In the aftermath of these crimes, we have heard some of the same old tired arguments regarding how easy it is to get guns.

Some will likely look to our government for help, but I do not see how stiffening already tough gun laws can help these situations. If a person is determined to kill somebody, they will do what it takes to get a gun.

In some respects, gun laws remind me of the prohibition laws of the early 20th century. The purpose of prohibition was to outlaw alcohol production and consumption, but it never really worked. People with the means to make and drink alcohol still found a way to do it.

When trying to understand these recent killings, maybe we should look at them in the context of the spiritual holidays currently being observed. Just about every religion revolves around the battle of good versus evil.

The pressures of the world back us all into a corner at some point. When these pressures come, we have a choice. Are we going to remain committed to doing the right thing no matter how difficult the situation?

Or, are we going to break and lash out at the things that have us in the corner?

The answer seems easy, but is it really?


Anonymous said...

It sounds like you dont think there should be any gun laws.

Anonymous said...

It does?

Chris said...

"It sounds like you dont think there should be any gun laws."

I'm not saying that at all. I'm just saying more laws won't prevent the type of behavior we are seeing. In the last several decades, the preciousness of life has been de-valued a lot in our society. Until we address that issue, things won't get better.