It’s been almost two weeks since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. As usual after these events, there’s non-stop news coverage, shock and sadness expressed by the victims, thoughts and prayers given, and then the inevitable debate on gun control. Should there be stricter gun laws or should there be more focus on mental illness? But I think there’s a missing element that doesn’t get discussed as much. It’s the element of “why people do violent things in society”.
Think about it. None of these mass shooters you’ve ever seen in the news just woke up one day and decided, “I’m going to go shoot a bunch of people today”. It took a lifetime of many people not caring about them or their pain. And because very few people if any at all cared, they stopped caring about other people and their pain.
Violence in our society, whether it’s mass shootings, homicides, assaults, etc… is not just the fault of some evilness in an individual. It’s also the fault of our society for not taking enough responsibility for helping people who are hurt, in pain, and dealing with it alone. Blaming an individual’s evilness can at times seem like just a nice scapegoat for people to not feel any guilt. Evil or not, these were still humans who had feelings, unmet desires, and no one to hug them enough and tell them they’re not alone. To listen to what it is that’s bothering them so much, or what kind of bad thoughts they have sometimes, and to show them that there are other ways to deal with that pain they feel.
I think about Acts 2:44-46 and the first Christian converts. “44 And all those who had believed [ar]were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread [as]from house to house, they were taking their [at]meals together with gladness and [au]sincerity of heart,”
A beautiful thing we see here, the level of communal love and support for one another. I hope we as Christians can strive for that level of love and support for those we see and can tell are hurt and in pain in our society. It may help prevent the next violent event from happening.
Peace to you all in Christ.
19 thoughts on “Why People Do Violent Things in Society”
There’s a lot of wisdom in this post! Thank you for the insights.
Hi Steven. Thanks for the compliment!
Peace in Christ.
Interesting insight. Your definitely on to something, but it’s hard for people to hear things they don’t want to hear and it’s easier to blame things and other people. I believe there is a major spiritual connection beyond the one you’ve already pointed out. I just recently published, “Another American School Shooting,” with similar findings to yours and would be interested in hearing your thoughts if you get a moment to read and reflect. Otherwise, we’ll written post and definitely will make me think twice about marginalizing those I come in contact with who are strange or hurting.
Hi Bob. Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you’re inspired to pay more attention to those who are ostracized or neglected in our society. I did take the time to read your post and found it interesting. While I’m not as sure about the idea of God punishing countries (I’m guessing that’s what you were alluding to but correct me if I’m misunderstood) since I lean more towards the idea that God deals with us on an individual basis with regards to consequences of sin or turning from Him, I do agree that a lack of God in one’s life can definitely lead to devastating consequences. Definitely important we all put our focus on Him in these times.
Peace in Christ 🙂
Yes, I do most definitely agree that God deals with us as individuals, and my point wasn’t necessarily that God was punishing us as a country, but rather that we were dealing with the natural consequences of our actions as far as what we’ve been promoting as a country. For what is a country, but a collection of individuals with a shared cultural experience. And while your piece was presenting that experience at the neighborhood (micro) level, I was merely explaining how that problem might manifest itself at the national (macro) level, something a kin to what we are seeing now. So basically, one school shooting in a year might be considered an anomaly, ten in a couple of years a trend, but hundreds over a couple of decades is a systemic problem. And unfortunately, scripture is clear how God eventually deals with that problem, whether passively as stated in Romans, 1:28-32 where he turns us over to a depraved mind, or of the Revelations type variety that we know is eventually more judgement oriented. Again, just to clarify, I was not in any way insinuating that God is sending shooters into our schools to punish us, but He is obviously not preventing them either. This leads me to believe we are now reaping the consequences of what we have sown both at the individual level and as a culture. Sorry, for taking up so much space, but I do believe this is a dialogue worth having. Thanks, and peace in Christ to you as well.
Oh, no need to apologize. I’m really glad you’re sharing all of these thoughts. I’ve responded to much longer comments than this. 😀
If you could help me understand your point of view better, who is the “we” that is reaping these consequences? Is it the people killed in the school shootings that are reaping these consequences? And are you suggesting that these students and all of the people who’ve been a part of the school shootings over the last couple of years are people that turned from God? Appreciate your answers to these questions. 🙂
Peace in Christ.
This breaks my heart that we are seeing such a Godless society.
Lord, help us to share our hope with the world!
Hi edgingdeadness. Yes, it can seem heartbreaking the way the world has gone at times. But indeed, as long as we’re here, the Lord will help us shine a light in the world through sharing with others the faith in Christ that gives us hope.
Peace in Christ 🙂
Thanks for your reply. I guess the “we” I am referring to is our culture in general. To clarify, there are really only two kinds of people in the world, as I’m sure you are well aware of, and that is the saved and the lost. While the lost don’t generally understand the full ramifications of their depravity, the saved, by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit do, or should understand. However, since there are more of them then there are of us, we might expect to see exactly what we are seeing. We are seeing general decline or chipping away of our Christian cultural values simply because the unsaved reproduce at a faster rate than the saved, and they make decisions that are based more on selfish desires, rather than what is best for others. While it is first at the individual level, it eventually affects the neighbors, the community, city, state then the nation as a whole. So while our children are being slaughtered in the schools, they are not themselves necessarily reaping the consequences of their own actions, they are more generally feeling the effects of decisions that have been made over the past several decades. So, it’s not an either or scenario, the individual v. the culture, it’s both. There have been plenty of Christian children killed in these horrific events as well, but my heart aches for all of these children and their families. They are our future, and unfortunately, as long as we continue to focus on symptomatic issues such as gun control and “mental health” issues, and not the spiritual decline of our people, this will continue to get worse. I am deeply saddened by these events and would not wish them upon anyone. So if my original article in anyway conveyed an air of callousness, or righteous indignation, I am looking at that as I am always open to how I may more graciously speak the truth in love. Again, peace in Christ to you.
Oh, no need to apologize. I didn’t think that at all, and I apologize if it seemed I was insinuating. I was just curious to understand your perspective better. Your response gave me something to reflect on that I hadn’t pondered before. I always appreciate when somebody offers something new for me to think about. When do you believe this spiritual decline in the larger culture of America began? What point in American culture do you believe spirituality was at it’s peak in your view?
I guess if you looked at our history, focusing on events within our culture as kind of a spiritual thermometer, I’d have to say that the Revolutionary War period was probably our highest peak given the large volume of Christian writings that appear in our founding documents and public discourse. And WWII was probably our peak in the last century, with a gradual decline beginning immediately after that, with the sharpest fall beginning in the sixties and continuing pretty much non-stop since then. I believe FDR’s prayer for the Nation and our soldiers in his national radio address on June 6, 1944, (D-Day, Normandy Invasion), pretty much summed up the mood of a country that was well anchored by the Christian faith.
Although the scopes monkey trial of 1925 might have planted the seeds of doubt in the American public, that decision wouldn’t really have a major impact until decades later in the sixties and seventies, when courts really began expunging Christianity from the public school system and the public square and the teaching of evolution began to become the dominate teaching regarding the origins of man. Over the past couple of decades, there has been a seismic shift away from any type of acknowledgement of the Christian faith in the public schools and government, and while there was a momentary resurgence in faith after 9/11, it was not rooted in Christianity, but rather an organized effort to include all faiths. This brings us to the present where we have an openly hostile environment to all things Christian in both school and government, leaving our children with nowhere to turn when things get tough. And what I mean by that last statement is this, kids no longer have hope, because we’ve been teaching them over the past 50 years that there is no God, and because the universe blew into existence as the result of an accidental explosion of atoms, that they themselves are accidents and have no real purpose. We may not be coming right out and saying it, but kids are smart and I believe they’ve connected the dots. So, when your born into a meaningless existence, and things don’t work out, why not just end it and finally get some rest in a world gone mad. And if you’ve happened to have been mistreated by others along the way, why not take some of them with you? Thus, this unfortunate predicament we now find ourselves in. What do you think, sound crazy, or make sense? Peace in Christ.
Interesting analysis. I have a couple of questions to certain pieces of your statement. But I’ll answer your question first. I can understand the idea that there were likely more people who followed the Christian faith in the past. Could the decline have possibly elevated consequential social problems in our society with more people at times having less regard for one another because of lack following moral guidelines given to us by God, perhaps. But other things you said I do have a a few questions about if you don’t mind indulging me.
“I’d have to say that the Revolutionary War period was probably our highest peak given the large volume of Christian writings that appear in our founding documents and public discourse. And WWII was probably our peak in the last century, with a gradual decline beginning immediately after that, with the sharpest fall beginning in the sixties and continuing pretty much non-stop since then. I believe FDR’s prayer for the Nation and our soldiers in his national radio address on June 6, 1944, (D-Day, Normandy Invasion), pretty much summed up the mood of a country that was well anchored by the Christian faith.”
Do you think American society as a whole was in a better place during those time periods?
” when courts really began expunging Christianity from the public school system and the public square and the teaching of evolution began to become the dominate teaching regarding the origins of man. Over the past couple of decades, there has been a seismic shift away from any type of acknowledgement of the Christian faith in the public schools and government,”
Do you think having the Christian faith promulgated within schools and government is advocated in any verses in scripture?
Peace in Christ 🙂
Well, in response to you first question, “do I think American society as a whole was in a better place during those time periods?
Oops, accidentally hit the reply button. Wasn’t quite ready to do that, I will get back to you soon.
Of course, the easy answer to the first question is yes, because neither kids nor adults were walking into schools or their work places killing their classmates or coworkers. While I’m sure you may be able to find a few isolated incidents here or there, it wasn’t a societal problem. While slavery and other issues existed during the Revolutionary war period, there was still a general reverence for God and Christianity at the cultural level. I believe this was also true during WWII, especially coming off the depression era, when this country was greatly humbled. My answer to the second question is no, it’s not in scripture, but that was never really my point. Rather, that Christianity was at least influencing people’s consciousness and cultural values.
I’d agree with the point there were probably less mass shootings at that time. As far as Christianity influencing consciousness and values at those times, I don’t know if I would see slavery, rapes and killings of African-Americans before civil rights laws were instituted, imprisonment camps of the Japanese, killings of thousands of Native Americans, discrimination of other minorities, rapes and harassment of women generally unprosecuted, and other issues that befell perhaps millions of people during those times, as necessarily congruent with a general cultural reverence for God and Christianity.
As 1 John 4:20 states, “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
Peace in Christ. 🙂
You make a good point, these were indeed reprehensible and wicked acts performed by a godless segment of our population. While some of them may have done it under the banner of Christianity, you and I both know what the Bible describes as the behaviors of “born again” believers. I will point out one other time where I believe our country was at a peak of spiritual influence from Christianity and that was during the Civil War. Well over a 100,000 Union soldiers died in combat so that Slavery could be eradicated from this country. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:13 –
While we can debate the the finer points of warfare at another time, I think it’s been a point that has unfortunately been sorely missed by a vast majority of our people. As terrible as it was for us to allow slavery in our country in the first place, little recognition is given to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who gave their lives for their fellow man to free them from slavery. Thanks for the debate, it has been very enjoyable and you’ve certainly given me plenty to think about my self. God bless you and may you continue to seek the spread of the gospel, in your writing and all that you do. Peace in Christ.
America definitely has a complicated history. Some choose to focus only on the bad, and others choose to focus only on the good. I’m glad in this conversation we can acknowledge both the good and the bad. And even if we may differ on the point of how much spiritual influence was in this country at certain points, we agree that it’s definitely an important thing to have within our society, and I hope you and I will both continue to push the cause of faith being the influence of more and more people in our culture. It was a joy to have this discussion.
Peace in Christ. 🙂
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