“Pray Constantly” – 1st Thessalonians 5:17
It’s happened again. Oh yeah, and it happened just 10 days before in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York and 5 days later in a California church. But this one, if possible, was even more horrific because it killed 19 innocent, beautiful children in an elementary school. How, why do these things happen? And maybe a bigger question, why do they only seem to be happening in America? What is wrong with us?
The massacre that took place at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas is, sadly, not an anomaly in America anymore. According to the Gun Violence Archive, an independent data collection organization, there have been 212 mass shootings so far this year (defined as an incident in which 4 or more people were shot excluding the shooter). The mass shooting in Uvalde marks the 27th school shooting this year where there were either injuries or deaths. Education Week which has been tracking school shootings since 2018 reports that 119 school shootings have taken place since then. So, why are we dealing with these incidents and why does it seem to be happening with shooters who are younger than 25? What’s changed in America to create the ‘perfect storm’ for this to happen?
America today is a far cry from what it was in the 70’s and 80’s when my kids were growing up. I never had to even think about them being “at risk” when they went off to school. But, if we look at what has transpired in the last 30+ years, we have seen our society and life in America change in a variety of ways. Divorce rates have increased and we have seen the demise of the family unit. At the same time, technology has evolved from what was something only used by businesses and government agencies in order to process work to what now is something we all carry around in our hip pocket. While the technology has changed our lives in both good and bad ways, it definitely has made a lot of information, some of which is not appropriate for young people, easily accessible. Now, I realize that this gets into the sensitive area of our first-amendment rights when I talk about everything that is out on the Internet, but I think we do have to consider how it has changed our world.
For example, the advancement of technology has put life-like gaming entertainment into the hands of both young people and adults. Now, I could argue that this has led to young people not getting enough physical activity because they would rather sit in their bedroom and play Madden Football or whatever game they might wish to play. But, I raise another question, a more serious question.
I do not know what or if any studies have been done, but I never have been able to understand the socially redeeming value of digital gaming that puts young people into a mindset where they win at a game by “killing people.” Now, I’m sure many of you will feel I am overreacting, but is it possible that if a young person, whose mind is very impressionable, involves themselves enough in such games that they could become desensitized to what it actually means to kill someone? Can such games warp one’s understanding of what real life is really like? After all, when they ‘get killed’ playing their digital game, nothing really happens to them. They merely hit a “restart button” and the game starts all over again. That’s not the reality of killing someone in real life.
And this raises the question I have raised before, is there a connection between the 24/7 non-stop distraction that the technology has brought into our lives and the rise of mental health issues we have seen in both adolescents and adults? Once again, we do know that for all of the benefits that technology brings to us, the many things it does for us to keep us informed and connected, we also know that it has become a tool used for all the wrong reasons when it comes to bullying, spreading negative, even untrue gossip, etc. There is no denying that we are seeing a dramatic rise in the number of young people who are unhappy, suffering from feelings of isolation and loneliness and dealing with anxiety even though they supposedly have all this connectivity in the palm of their hand. Considering all that I have mentioned, what I can say is this – back in 1975 when we didn’t have the Internet and social media, we also were not experiencing the mass shootings we are seeing today. Is there a connection?
And yet, there is still one other question. Why do these horrific mass shootings only seem to be taking place in America? After all, the technology issues I have discussed here exist elsewhere in this world.
What Can We Do?
“Pray Constantly” – 1st Thessalonians 5:17
First, we need to turn to God and PRAY. And yes, we need to pray constantly! God is always with us. He does not want or will these horrible things to happen to us. He hurts when we hurt and he wants us to love each other, our neighbors, as we love ourselves.
And yes, while we will never be able to totally legislate away the threat of gun violence in America, we do need to take an active interest in where our congressmen/women stand when it comes to issues related to mandatory universal background checks for gun control and eliminating the sale of military-like assault weapons to the general public (please tell me who goes deer hunting with AK-47 assault weapon?). We need to let our voices be heard on the issue of gun control regardless where you stand. We all have a responsibility in this.
As Golden State Warrior basketball Head Coach Steve Kerr said, “I’m fed up. I’ve had enough!” So have I.