Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Movie Theater Shootings and the Blame Game

When I heard the horrible news about the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, I was sickened. Like most other people, I felt sad and violated. I grieved (and still grieve) for the many people who died and were wounded so meaninglessly.
And then began the blame game.
The main target for the blame game is the guns. Why was this disturbed young man able to get all of these guns? Shouldn't we have stricter laws? Does this event, along with other shooting sprees, tell us that we need to move in the direction of gun control?
The guns are not to blame. And this movement to blame the guns is misdirected. I say this as a person who doesn't like guns and never plans to own a gun. I am by no stretch of the imagination a gun enthusiast (although I do support the right to bear arms). Still, I believe it is misdirected blame, but maybe not for the reason you think.
Blaming the guns is misdirected in the same way that blaming our government after 9/11 was misdirected. It is misdirected in the same way that blaming authorities for not moving more quickly in the wake of Hurricane Katrina was misdirected. It is misdirected in the same way that blaming building contractors after earthquakes and tsunamis is misdirected.
None of this is to say that these people never deserve any blame. Sometimes they do. The reason it is misdirected is because it reveals that we believe a lie. We believe that we can prevent tragedies if we just have more information, more vigilance, and more control.
If the government hadn't been asleep at the wheel, we could have prevented those terrorist attacks. If school administrators had been more strict about bullies, this suicide could have been prevented. If we had more gun control, we could have prevented this tragedy.
We are kidding ourselves. We are trying to feel better by telling ourselves that we have control over our lives. It is a lie. We don't.
None of the people who walked into that Aurora movie theater had any reason to think that they were walking into danger. But they were. Why? Because we live on a cursed and broken planet with cursed and broken people. Nowhere is safe. No one is safe. Someone could break into my house while I am writing this post.
I wish that there was a fool-proof way to prevent further shootings, but we simply don't have enough power and control to do that. Extra gun laws and extra security and bullet-proof vests won't ultimately protect us from the evil in this world. We are all vulnerable.
Sorry that this seems so depressing. I don't intend it to be depressing. I just intend it to be accurate.
If you follow Jesus, you have hope. Real hope. And you hope is not that you will one day figure out a way to gain such control over the world around you that you will be able to eliminate danger. That is a fool's hope (as Gandalf might say). Instead our hope is that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, will one day return to redeem and renew this world. He will eliminate death and grief and pain and evil. Him and only him. We can't, but he can.
The blame game is misdirected not because there isn't ever appropriate blame on parents and teachers and government officials. It is misdirected because it reflects that we have believed a lie. And all lies are from the enemy. He wants us to believe that we have save ourselves, but the gospel continually tells us that we must be saved by someone else.
Don't respond to tragedy by trying to grab control. This is an illusion and it will only leave you more confused and disheartened when the next tragedy takes place. Instead, respond to tragedy by placing your hope in the one person who knows what to do with it. The one person who can bring a final end to terrorist attacks and movie theater shootings. The one person who can, and will, bring ultimate peace on earth.

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