I’m just a wife and mother. I’m no expert. But I’m not alone in my reaction to the news reports of mass shootings when I cry out,

“What is going on? Why is this happening? How can we stop it?”

Far more informed people than I have drawn their conclusions and offered their opinions. And many uninformed and unthinking individuals have offered theirs as well. Some see patterns — the majority of the shooters are white males, obtained their guns legally, have no criminal background, and have plied their destruction since the 1980s. Others don’t see any pattern worth noting. They claim crazies have always been doing this and will always do things like this as long as we have freedom.

I imagine the shootings from God’s perspective — blisters across the body of America, puss pockets indicative of a systemic disorder — something terrible going on within. The depravity of man is the disease. A spiritual solution is the only cure.

Yet, cliches like “Jesus is the answer” isn’t the right gift for someone who has lost a child because of a senseless murder.  It is far more fitting to sit quiet and grieve with them.

Eventually, the questions arise again. Why does this happen? How can we change it?

I realize the depravity of man is too great a problem for me to solve. The sin goes all the way back to Adam and we are all to blame. We are the parents who failed, the abusers who abused, the drug dealers who dealt, and the bullies who bullied. If not, we are the cowards who stood by and did nothing. Or we walked to the other side of the road to avoid seeing the pain. We played our games in earshot of suffering. We rode in cars over dead bodies. We were in a hurry. We couldn’t be bothered. We sold the guns, we created the video games, and we sang the songs of destruction. We made the movies and wrote the books. We gloried in our license to do wrong. We marketed the wares of Satan and we bought what he was selling.  We’ve all got blood on our hands. It’s true. Look into your heart and you’ll find desires and emotions you share with the worst of us. Secret acts. Unspeakable desires. Hidden thoughts.

The shooters acted upon them. They lived with integrity with their black hearts. Those shootings were true expressions of the squalor, the hatred, the discord, the fear, the shame, and the disgust. Wrong-headed and wrong-hearted. The human spirit perverted. Mankind bent and disfigured. Where is the image of God? Where is the stamp of eternity?

The rest of us deny our black hearts and point fingers. We wear masks and compare them. We glory in our “better-than” and our “not as bad as” or “not so low as”.

Come now, we’ve come to more cliches — “In order to change the world, we must change ourselves” and “I’m starting with the man in the mirror.”

But what if those cliches are the problem? What if the notion of claiming power to change ourselves caused all the pain we suffer? Is it a lie? That we can lift ourselves out of our depravity — that we can become “less depraved”? Does believing that, with the right services, laws, and efforts, we can effect lasting change, deter us from facing the truth? I mean, none of us would dare proclaim perfection as an attainable goal. Knowing perfection cannot be grasped should awaken us. We only wallow in mud on different levels. Some of us get more gasps of air.

This is how I live. I’m just a wife and a mother. I love my husband and my children. I keep them safe as best as I can and feed them and sacrifice selfish desires for them. I read my daughters stories and pray for them. I ask forgiveness and say I’m sorry. And I hide their faces from the world sometimes because it can be terrible. But I am not enough. I know that. I am not enough for me, for my husband, for my children. I am not enough for my world. I am not enough for this world. Clearly, the solution is something Other — something not of ourselves.

If the solution is in our hands, if we keep believing that, our destiny remains in the mud.

 

 

 

 

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