Combatting Mass Violence

Ninety-one percent of men and 84 percent of women “have had at least one vivid and often detailed fantasy about committiing murder”, says psychologist David M. Buss, and most murders are committed by seemingly normal persons (“The Murder Next Door”, Penguin Press, 2005, P.8). Fortunately, most people don’t act on their fantasy. Buss wrote that we must recognize, appreciate, and be alert to our “deeply ingrained capacity for murder that lurks inside us all, even those we love and who love us” (p.3).

This capacity leads to our facination with murder in the media, spawning TV programs like Perry Mason, Matlock, Diagnosis Murder, Murder She Wrote and Columbo. Authors like Ann Rule capitlize on true crime books about murder and serial killers. The media may or not always be a trigger for murder. Some experts disagree, but three grade-school age girls raped another girl after seeing a TV movie on violence in a women’s prison the night before. They copied the method used in the movie. And, just this month a mass shooter who targeted Mexican Americans left a manifesto which used the rhetoric and vocabulary that President Trump has been using to describe the Hispanic people entering the US across our Southern border. However, millions of people watch the TV shows and read the books without murdering anyone as a result.

Buss claims that there is a fundamental logic to murder, that it is a ” product of the evolutionary pressures our species confronted and adapted to”. Personally, I believe he is off point here: Our capacity to murder originated in our fall from grace that was precipitated by Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Ironically, it is the original sin, pride, that keeps some people from killing another human. They believe they’d be caught, and they don’t want to be seen in such a negative fashion or to be thought of as mentally incompetent, so they refrain from killing.

Mass murder, to include acts like Charles Manson’s, the Boston bomber’s, Walmart and school shooters, has no universally agreed upon definition. It is generally accepted that the definition includes four or more victims in one episode. Those killers who have multiple victims spread out over time are considered serial killers. About one third of mass murders, 90 out of 292, from 1966-2012 were committed in the United States. Contributing factors include being bullied at school or socially, mental illness, social media glorification which can lead to copy cat episodes, the wide-spread chronic gap between personal expectation and actual achievement (which explains the popularity of super heroes) and trying to exert control over things the killer feels helpless at. The last two are closely related.

Curbing the violence requires a three-pronged approach: A fundamental shift in the direction our government is going, society’s return to the basic principles this country was founder on, and individual action by citizens. We can’t sit back and expect the government to do everything for us. This country was founded as “One nation, Under God”, but that is no longer true. We now worship the god of self an minimize our relationship with our Creator. It’s no wonder then that this country’s experiencing so many natural disasters lately.

The city of Capernaum made the same mistake. Capernaum was a city on the West shore of Galilee that had a strong connection to Jesus. He worked many miracles there. It’s where He chose Levi, called Matthew, Simon Peter and Andrew lived there. And, Jesus and His apostles lived there often. Yet the city rejected Christ and His message. Jesus told them, ‘Woe to you Capernaum, which is exalted unto heaven shall be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works which have been done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgement than for you” (Matthew 23:20-24; Luke 16:23). Capernaum was completely destroyed to the point it did not exist anymore. The German Oriental Society uncovered the synagogue in 1905 that was made of limestone and dated to 400 AD. Under that was a basalt synagogue dating to Christ’s time. Partial restoration has been done. The site is now uninhabited except for research.

The United States, like Capernaum, has had ample warning. We need to get back in touch with our founding fathers’ commitment to God, because that is the only program that works, so we need to get with His program. Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias has said that the reason we need thousands of pages in hundreds of law books is because we refuse to follow ten lines on a stone tablet. And, that’s true. The Ten Commandments, if followed, would be all the law we need.

Jesus explained further that we should love God with all our mind, spirit, soul and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves. God tells us “If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 6:120-30; James 4:10).

We as a people and nation need to repent and come back to being on nation under God. If we do that, He will heal this nation, but it won’t get healed if we don’t return to Him. The literal definition of the Hebrew word for repentance, nacham, is to be eased, or comforted. It is used in the Bible most often to mean turn about, or change direction. Therefore, if we change direction back to God we as a nation will be eased and comforted

Each Christian is obligated to do as much as possible to spread the gospel to all people. That means the homeless person sleeping under the bus stop bench and the school bully as much as it does anyone else. Younger Christians still in school may just witness to a potential school shooter and cause them to change their mind-and hopefully to become a Christian. I say this every week, and I’m saying it again: right now is the time to start. This minute if not second. No one knows when the Lord will return so we need to always live as if He’s coming back any second. So, how many will you witness to today?

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