This is Pastor Tim’s article which appeared in the Evening Leader on Tuesday, June 7, 2022
I was out running this morning and, as is usually the case, my mind was also out running. I have had a hard time getting past the latest mass shooting in Uvalde, TX. This is when an evil man locked himself in the room with the grade school age children and killed all of them. A sane, clear mind can not comprehend this level of evil. There is not now, nor will there ever be, a satisfactory explanation of why this happened. There is no possible scenario where we will see what happened in Uvalde in a positive light. If, by any chance, you do hear an explanation of this tragedy that does make you feel any level of sympathy or understanding toward the gunman, please seek professional help immediately.
There has been a lot of talk about who is to blame for this tragedy. School officials, gun manufacturers, the police, and the list of blame goes on and on. I can’t help but notice that the person who did the shooting is not on the list of people to blame. There plenty of blame for a whole lot of people. Yes, clearly something in the system went terribly wrong to allow this to happen. But, all of the blame that everyone else owns is miniscule to the amount of blame owned by the person who did the shooting. We may need to make some policy and training changes, but none of that takes one ounce of blame away from the man who did the shooting.
You will notice I am not using the shooter’s name. I sincerely don’t know his name and I am not dignifying him by taking time to look it up. God knows his name and I am perfectly happy to leave it at that.
The question that really runs through my mind in the aftermath of this is what in the world is going on with our society that we are producing people who have so little hope that they can not see the value of innocent children? How empty do you have to be inside to get to that point? Yes, the shooter clearly had mental and emotional issues, and he was suffering from being either a psychopath or a sociopath. But even people with no capacity to experience compassion can get to a point where they can understand that murdering children is no way to express yourself. There has to be something more going on here because even a mentally ill person should realize that cold-blooded murder is wrong even if I lack the capacity to feel anything about it.
Of all the solutions to this problem being discussed by the talking heads in the media, I have not heard anyone discuss the only solution that will work. The only way that we will be able to curb this taste for senseless violence is by instilling hope back into our culture. Could there be any clearer example of someone who has no hope for tomorrow than someone who would go into a school and shoot unarmed children? There are only two possible results of what they are considering: life in prison or death. There is no other possibility. Only someone who has lost all hope would ever even entertain such an idea.
We can debate where we get hope to give to the next generation, but it is clear what we are doing now is not cutting it. You know I am a pastor of a church, so you also know that I have some old-fashioned ideas of where hope comes from. But at the end of the day, hope only comes from one place: purpose. People who have a purpose and meaning in their lives are the most hopeful people you will ever meet. There is a reason why most (not all but most) of these violent people who want to share their pain with the world come from broken situations. When you live in disfunction, the first thing you lose is your purpose. And when you rarely, if ever, interact with someone healthy enough to help you determine that purpose, that is a recipe for disaster.
Purpose is given to us by our families, and it needs to be reinforced by pastors, teachers, coaches, leaders and other people who are in family support roles. That is how you put a foundation under the next generation so that they can grow into their God-given potential by fulfilling their God-given purpose.
People with that kind of hope are well insulated against the kind of despair that can lead to violence.