After violence such as that which happened here in Kalamazoo this past weekend, we tend to grapple with 1) How do we process it (part 1 of this series), and 2) WHY did it happen (part 2), but then, quite naturally, we get to this question: What can we DO, darn it, to make sure this kind of thing stops happening?
After all, Kalamazoo is not an isolated incident. Columbine, Sandy Hook, Aurora…all of these and many more have become places that many of us had never heard of in the past, but now can name not only the states they’re in, but what happened there.
Sure, Kalamazoo has always had an interesting name, but now people all over the world know it simply as the latest place where ‘senseless’ killings have taken place.
I’m sure I join everyone in saying that we don’t want this kind of violence to continue!
So, let me ask again…What can we DO?
Some will go right to Gun Control. After all, if we made guns less available, then it would not happen, right?
Well…no, in fact.
Some places in our country and our world in which guns are the most restricted have been visited by this kind of violence…and I think there’s some truth to the ‘bumper sticker slogan’ that “If you outlaw all guns, only outlaws will have guns”. After all, criminals, by definition, don’t respect laws. If we suddenly have ‘gun registration drives’, or ‘gun buyback programs’, or even if we have a heavy-handed government which abolishes the 2nd Amendment and requires all guns to be turned in, No one seriously thinks that criminals will comply. Rather, they’ll keep their guns and use them whenever they want with no threat that their victims can fight back.
Having said that, it needs to be admitted that, if the perpetrator of Kalamazoo’s violence had a knife, instead of a gun, it would be much more likely that he would have been stopped earlier. Guns do enable carnage on a much larger scale than other weapons.
However, I think that this ‘legislative’ approach misses the mark. As one meme I saw recently reminded us: “Cain killed Abel with a rock; It’s a HEART problem!”
So, again…what can we DO?
Others go to Mental Health treatment.
Perhaps the shooter in Kalamazoo had unaddressed ‘Mental Health’ issues. Surely this must be a factor. After all, you don’t go from a family man, and good worker who wants to be a Police Officer to a mass murderer without some kind of ‘breakdown’. Surely something was missed. And certainly, a person who can shoot people, drive for Uber, then shoot more people and drive for Uber again in a detached manor has had some sort of break with reality.
Yet, we have to acknowledge that many of the perpetrators of these violent offenses have been under ‘mental health’ care, and have had medication, and case management services in place. Others have actually been under the eyes of Law Enforcement, but still…no one could foresee this type of behavior.
So, again….What can we DO?
I think the answer is more ‘organic’ than Legislation and Mental Health (although I think both deserve more treatment).
I think the answer is more A) Human and B) Spiritual.
Today, let me speak to The Human solution. Tomorrow I’ll speak to The Spiritual Solution.
From a ‘Human’ perspective, there are some ways in which we are more connected than ever. I currently have 1100 ‘Friends’ on Facebook, and I’m also connected to Linked-In, Instagram, and of course, this Blog. I have been in contact with old friends that I had not heard from in decades–all due to Social Media.
And I’m 53–certainly not one of the ‘most connected’. I’m an ‘old’ guy (old-er, anyway). There are many who have many more ‘friends’ than I do.
Yet, for all the ‘connections’ we have, we have fewer real ‘Connections’ than ever. We know a lot about people, but we don’t really know people. We are in ‘Facebook relationships’, but not in any Real relationships.
In spite of our ‘connected-ness’ via technology, we don’t know how to work through conflict, we have less ability to form deep relationships, (and even less motivation to do so). Our relationships are ‘a mile wide but only an inch deep’. We simply don’t have (or make) time to prioritize ‘Community’.
‘Belonging’ is something we all long for, but fewer and fewer of us experience it. We are more ‘connected’ and more ‘isolated’ at the same time.
We are on the fast track, going from one activity and one connection to the next, we no real time to simply ‘be’ in relationship with one another.
The truth is that we all make time for that which is important to us, and UNLESS we start prioritizing RELATIONSHIPS–real, deep, complex, growing and loving Relationships over Pseudo-Community, we may have entered a ‘downward spiral’ in our society with little chance of pulling out of it.
I pray that the Lord wakes us up before it’s too late…and that’s what I’ll talk about tomorrow.