Tragedy in South Texas

Another mass shooting, this time in a Baptist Church in rural southern Texas, has the country once again wondering what is going on and why are these shootings taking place, and at such greater frequency.

We are not yet five weeks from the mass shooting in Las Vegas, when yet another has taken place, this time claiming at least 26 lives with another twenty or more injured. The victims include children and the elderly, families gathered to worship the Lord on a Sunday morning in a small, rural town outside of San Antonio.

The alleged shooter, Devin Kelley, had a history of violence. He was discharged from the Air Force in 2014 under charges of physically abusing his wife and child. He was not supposed to be able to purchase a firearm. He was denied a license to carry a gun by the state of Texas, but when he filled out the form for a background check to purchase the AR-556 rifle he used in the shooting, he simply lied about there being any obstacles to his purchase. Whether or not the background check was done is unclear. The bottom line is, the laws on the books should have prevented Kelley from purchasing the rifle. So, how did he manage to purchase it? Laws are useless if not enforced.

How did we get to a place where anger and frustrations are taken out on the innocent, and in such violent and deadly ways? That’s not a question Congress or any state legislature will be able to answer, and it’s not a problem they’ll be able to address. The answer is in the heart of the culture of a people. We are a violent people. We tolerate killing our own children because we don’t think we can handle a child right now, or because the child has a genetic defect that somehow justifies the killing. Gangs and drug cartels control inner cities, enforcing their brand of law with violence. Men and women are killed out of anger, fear, or prejudice by law enforcement because the color of their skin is threatening. Professional athletes physically assault the women in their lives with virtual impunity, and we still turn on the TV to watch them.

So many people live their lives on a fuse that is just waiting to be lit. They are explosions eager to go off, awaiting just the right trigger. We’re now learning that the Las Vegas shooter had lost a great deal of money and had been depressed in the two years prior to his actions. Was there no one there for him? Were there no resources to help him? We are so disconnected from each other. We live lives of quiet desperation, and there is no one to reach out to, no one with whom we can connect. We have become convinced that meaning and dignity are based on what we can achieve or contribute in this life. There is nothing to look forward to. We are alone.

It will only get worse. Our culture is fed by consumption: of food, of clothes, of material things, as well as the consumption of what little attention we can manage to squeeze from the busy but bored fellow citizens who live next to us but are not part of our lives. Others have become our competitors for attention, for products, for status — or even our enemies in the cause to prove that we are so much more than they are. When things go wrong, it’s no surprise that some people lash out, even on the innocent, for no one is innocent in a world that has caused them so much pain and owes them so much.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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