It seems to me that reports about horrible atrocities committed by humans against humans in our country have been peculiarly abundant over the past few months. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean the U.S. is not a great place to live compared to many other countries, especially those places where brutal war and corruption are commonplace. One of the good things to know is that atrocities still make the news here, which means they are not common. So in a round about way these reports help us know that we are pretty well off.
The three recent big ones–the horrible shooting of 20 children and 6 adults in Newtown Connecticut in December, the bombings at the Boston Marathon in April killing 6 people and injuring 264, and the discovery of three young girls held in brutal captivity for over 10 years–are enough to make anyone with a heart shudder and cry. Add to that the numerous other smaller crimes, such as the police officer who was brutally shot down when he walked up to a car that he had pulled over, and the 5 year old who accidentally shot his two year old sister with a “kiddie” gun given to him by his parents. I’m not sure which I consider the most egregious, making a “kiddie” gun or loading it and giving it to a 5 year old …. both are horrific to me.
Doesn’t all this just make you just want to holler! While hollering does help relieve our frustration and anger, it doesn’t do much to help the situation.
One of the things that really touched me was when one of the teachers in Newtown told the children that they had to hide because there was a bad guy out there and they had to wait until the good guys came. She knew the good guys were coming, it was just a matter of time. She knew that whoever was shooting would not be allowed to continue it without someone stepping up to stop the madness.
That’s the good thing about our country–we will not let the madness continue. And the good guys will come. Like those policemen who rescued so many of the children in Newtown, like those folks in the Boston bombings who ran to help the injured instead of running away to save themselves, and like Charles Ramsey, who responded to calls of help and broke through the door, ending a decade of abuse for three young women. The good guys will come.
Most of us who are followers of Christ, no matter what form that following may take, consider ourselves to be the good guys. (I’d like to say all of us, but I can’t be sure of that!) It doesn’t matter whether we’re Roman Catholics or Non-denominational, whether we’re Episcopal or Pentecostals, whether we’re Baptist or simply believers who are “spiritual but not religious.” We all consider ourselves to be the good guys. And if we are, we must wrestle with where we are to come in. What do we do as the “good guys” to make ourselves known? When do we don our “white hats” (a metaphor I don’t like, but it makes the point), and take actions to deal with such troubling situations?
I know some of us will always help out with a hand out, some will serve as mentors and helpers and others will be kind to anyone who is in trouble. But is this kind of help enough? When we find ourselves faced with atrocities like the ones we’re seeing too much of lately, we need to ask the harder, deeper questions to determine what in our society might be contributing to the situation. We need to address the structural causes, such as the need for more research and funding to support mental health; dealing honestly and intentionally with the negative image of our nation and our nation’s predominant faith, Christianity, that is held in the minds of so many people in other countries, especially “third world” nations; and deciding whether our country’s founders intended to protect the “right” of people to keep and carry the kind of semi-automatic weapons that cause such mass destruction. These are the bigger issues, the foundational issues we need to address if we are to make this country even better than it already is.
Our job as Christians is to try to see the world around us through God’s eyes. When we do, we will always look for the underlying causes of evil in this world, we will always seek more justice and righteousness and we will always be led by love and grace. And we will act–we will come in–to deal with the situation. If we really are the good guys….