jQuery Slider

You are here

America is at War with Itself

America Is at War with Itself
Pop-up Killings are now the norm in America and there is nothing to stop them escalating

By David W. Virtue, DD
www.virtueonline.org
August 8, 2019

The killings are rapidly escalating. The time between mass killings grows shorter by the week.

When it all started it was thought these killings were one-off occurrences. No more. They are common place now and with the increased killings, the numbness and shock diminish with time. If Sandy Hook was not a wake-up call and turning point, what is? If children can be slaughtered and the consciences of politicians are not touched to make laws to prevent further killings, we must ask, what is?

Americans are now at war with themselves. The Russians are not coming, Isis is not coming, neither is Al Qaeda. Americans' hatred and fear of the "other" grows by the week, aided and abetted by a president whose rhetoric and inaction fuels the escalating violence. America is more deeply divided between left and right now than at any time since the Civil War. Congress must also accept responsibility for their inaction, there is blame enough all around.

Some incontrovertible facts:

America is 4.4% of the world's population and owns 42% of all the guns.

Ninety percent of the mass shooters are single, alienated, white males, not blacks or Muslims.

Mexico, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Morocco are safer countries to live in than the US. None of them allow the personal ownership of assault rifles.

MENTAL HEALTH

America has the same percentage of mental health issues as other countries; it has the same percentages of kids playing video games; the difference is guns. Violent video games are more common in Japan, but their young people do not resort to violent shoot outs.

"Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun," Trump trumpeted, addressing weekend shootings in Texas and Ohio that killed 31 people. The president described the perpetrators as "a wicked man" and "another twisted monster." He called for swift use of the death penalty and passage of red flag laws that would make it easier to take guns away from people believed to be dangerous.

In response, mental health experts repeated what they have said after previous mass shootings: Most people with mental illness are not violent, they are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators, and access to firearms is a big part of the problem.

"Until we begin to have our political leaders speaking more accurately to these issues, it's up to us to put the facts out there," said Arthur Evans, chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association.

The mass killer of some 58 Americans in Nevada was not remotely done by a mentally disturbed person. Stephen Paddock had no known mental health disorders, a psychologist said.

100 people die daily in America of guns. No other country has that many die in a single day from shooting. Americans own 393 million guns, many of them semi-automatic weapons that both Australia and New Zealand now ban.

The notion that if we could stop every crazy hate filled person, we would eliminate violent crime is a total fiction say a significant number of American psychiatrists. They say that if every depressed were to be locked up violent crimes would go down by only four percent.

We are slowly slaughtering ourselves to death, aided and abetted by the rhetoric of a president given to provoking division. In all the statements and manifestos so far produced from Pittsburgh to New Zealand to Texas the message is the same, with the language of white nationalism that Trump affirms.

White supremacy and racial hate rule the internet and cyber space. Trump declined to call for tougher laws concerning background checks, eliminating bump stocks or banning semi-automatic weapons. He blamed it on mental illness. He is wrong.

BACKGROUND CHECKS

While 21 states have background checks, Congress has failed to pass any legislation for background checks.

OPEN CARRY LAWS

Criminals and minors get easy access to guns because of lax laws. Vigilantes can usually act without fear of being caught.

Experts on violent crime say such incidents make clear that despite the NRA's post-Sandy Hook justification, relaxing gun laws to let more people arm themselves has done nothing to prevent mass shootings. It's likely to make things worse if armed civilians intervene when shootings erupt in public places, says John Donohue, a Stanford Law School professor whose research has focused on gun violence and policy. "Unless you're very well trained, you usually add more to the body count than you subtract," Donohue says.

In El Paso, a number of people in Walmart had guns and not one drew their weapon.

HATE

Distinguished evangelical Albert Mohler headlined a story in CT: Mass Murder in El Paso and Dayton: The Awful Reality of Hatred and the Absurdity of Evil in the Human Heart.

He rightly argues that hate is a common thread in both shootings.

There is no adequate psychological or psychiatric measure to understand who is likely to turn violent in this kind of case. We can't read anyone else's mind or heart. We don't know what they are plotting. We don't know what they are planning. We don't know what kind of hatreds and resentments they are burying in the crevices of their heart, or for that matter, forming as a worldview that will turn inherently violent. When you look at what took place in El Paso and Dayton, and you put it in the larger context of so many other mass shootings and mass killings that have taken place, there can be no doubt that we're looking at the confluence of so many different evil streams. We are also looking at the fact that one word that is obvious here is often missing, and that is the word "hatred," he writes.

The Christian worldview reminds us that the problem is even bigger than that because we cannot read the human heart. The Bible actually speaks very explicitly of hatred, of the disease of hatred, of the pathology of hatred, of the evil intent of hatred. Harboring hatred in the human heart is a very deadly matter, says Mohler. But hate with a gun is a vastly different story than hate with a knife or just thoughts of hatred. We cannot get into the minds of haters; it's impossible, but we can prevent haters from having access to guns.

Ronald Reagan's deinstitutionalization of mental health, and in particular the fact that it is very, very difficult to institutionally constrain even the seriously mentally ill if they are unwilling to be so constrained has made matters worse.

One of the most important and helpful statements made in the aftermath of the headlines came by the Editorial Board of The Wall Street Journal. The title of the editorial, "The Killers in Our Midst."

The editors said, "It is all-too-typical of most of these young male killers who tend to be loners and marinate in notions they absorb in the hours they spend online. They are usually disconnected to family, neighborhood, church, colleagues at work, or anything apart from their online universe."

The editors point out that many of these shooters seem to draw inspiration from one another, and then they call for action. The editors write, "Politicians and other leaders do have a responsibility to condemn and marginalize those who indulge the ugly instincts that infect any human society." They continue, "That includes the President of the United States."

The editors wrote that they had, "Long warned Mr. Trump about the divisive tone of his public rhetoric."

As America grows more fatherless and lonelier, and people learn that virtual online friendships mean little or nothing, the violence will only increase. As community withers and dies and people live solitary lives hyped up with online grievances, multiple mass shootings will only continue; nothing can stop them. White nationalist hate will continue and grow. Domestic terrorism will continue. With so many guns now available in America, pop-up killers can be expected to reappear at any time and in any place.

GUNS

The only reason one owns a semi-automatic weapon is to kill another human being. Hunters by and large don't have automatic weapons, and they are the safest owners of guns in America. In Pennsylvania, officials decided to only legalize the semi-automatic guns for small game. "Most people don't see semi-automatic as something you need for big game," said William Broderick, a worker at Dunkleburger's Sports Outfitters. These semi-automatic weapons fire 100 rounds of ammunition in seconds, making any personal response almost meaningless. AR 15s and AK47 rifles are guns no ordinary American needs to own.

The combination of hate and guns is the problem. We all experience hatred at some time in our lives, but we don't pick up a gun and kill.

Trump is only the manifestation of the ugliness. The mass shootings began before Trump, they have only increased under Trump.

RACIAL HATRED

Racial hate is back in business and will not soon disappear. Liberal platitudes about why can't we all get along are milquetoast responses.

The Christian formula for hate is of course the gospel, but Americans don't really believe it, at the most they pay lip service to it. America is unofficially post Christian.

We are greedy, selfish and we hate the other because we have been stoked to do so by social media and social justice sermons that change no one and nothing.

The killings will go as long as disenfranchised white young men feel alienated from the wider society and believe that solving their fantasies by writing their delusional manifestos and then picking up an AR15 or AK47 and randomly killing people, will go and on. No one is safe anymore anywhere in America.

Unless there is a full-throated head on outlawing of semi-automatic weapons, then the killings will continue.

Many Americans are now considering leaving the land of the free and the home of the AK47 to find safer countries. It is why the 'one percent' have homes abroad. The president of PAYPAL has a home in NZ when the balloon goes up, because America is not going to get any better.

We will go on killing ourselves in greater numbers in the coming years, as pop-up madmen with automatic weapons randomly kill whomever, and Jesus will weep.

As the late Miroslav Volf observed, "There is something deeply hypocritical about praying for a problem you are unwilling to resolve."

*****

America is sInsick; gun violence is just the symptom
Gun laws are but a band aid when moral healing is needed

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
www.virtueonline.org
August 8, 2019

America is sIn sick; and sIn is I-centeredness: I ... I ... I ...; Me ... me ... me ...; My ... my ... my ...; Mine ... mine ... mine -- Me, Myself and I! This self-centered selfish I-centeredness is playing itself out on the national scene. Now there is no middle ground. No compromise. No meeting of the minds. No consensus. Unfortunately, the only common denominator is guns that are used as the only way of dealing with frustration, prejudice and hatred.

"O God, you have bound us together in a common life," the 1979 Book of Common Prayer's In Times of Conflict goes. "Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect ..."

In the 1928 Book of Common Prayer's For the Unity of God's People we pray: "Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions."

Currently our unhappy divisions in part include: political, racial, identity, religious, social, denominational, ethical, educational, ideological, gender, culture, economic, class, athletics, sports ...

We are a very divided nation religiously: Anglican, Protestant, Catholic, Charismatic, Pentecostal, Orthodox, Jewish, Evangelical, Muslim, Mormon, Buddhist, liberal, conservative, traditional, progressive, Nones ...

We are a fundamentally divided nation racially: black, white, brown, red, yellow -- "Jesus loves the little children ... All the children of the world ... Red, brown, yellow, black and white ... They are precious in His sight ... Jesus loves the little children of the world." African-American, European-American, Mexican-American, Native American, Asian-American ...

We are deeply divided economically: Elites, privileged, white collar, blue collar, pink collar, gray collar, gold collar, red collar, orange collar, green collar, scarlet collar, brown collar, black collar, new collar, First Estate, Second Estate, Third Estate, Fourth Estate, Fifth Estate, upper class, middle class, lower class, working class, underclass, disadvantaged, poor, the Haves, the Have nots, employed, underemployed, unemployed ...

We are a radically divided nation politically: Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Socialists, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, Third Parties, the Tea Party, the Left, the Right, Rinos, Dinos, red states, blue states, purple states, striped states ...

We are a drastically divided nation by sex and gender: male, female, transgendered, straight, gay, questioning, confused, transvestite, cis, womyn, feminists, chauvinists ...

We are divided according to where we live: the city, the country, urban, rural, suburban, town, village, the Left Coast, the Flyover Country, the Bible Belt, the Rust Belt, the Heartland ...

There is no common ground, no demilitarized zone, and this radical division is playing itself out in gun violence.

Why? That is the underlying question. Why?

Because America is sIn sick. There is a pervasive moral sickness which has invaded this country and is eating away at the very center of our national fiber. There is a loss of faith. A loss of morality. A loss of love. A loss of civility. A loss of respect for others. A loss of the sense of sin. A loss of a reverence for life. A loss of what is right and what is wrong. And most importantly a loss of God, Himself.

When sodomy was enshrined in law The Episcopal Church cheered and the President of the United States lit up the Whitehouse in the gay pride rainbow to celebrate. Men posing as women are allowed free access into ladies' rooms unimpeded. Christians are driven out of business because they will not kowtow to violating their spiritual beliefs. Religious rhetoric is branded as hate speech and tossed off the Internet yet hate-filled manifestos on the dark web are not challenged.

The Ten Commandments have been stripped from schools, courthouses and the public square. One of the Commandments pointedly commands: "Thou shall not kill," more precisely "Thou shall commit no murder." Young people no longer have an opportunity to read that the taking of a life is wrong. How are they to discern right from wrong?

In fact the taking of life is now very much a part of the very cultural fabric of the nation. It becomes a seedbed for more life-taking behavior.

Growing life is sucked out of the womb. A pre-born baby is ripped limb from limb from its mother's womb and a lesbian Episcopal priest considers that "abortion is a blessing." The sin of abortion is blessed and championed by individual Christians and entire denominations. In public library story hours drag queens teach young impressionable children that God made a mistake when He made them as boys and girls.

On the other end of life euthanasia, cloaked as assisted suicide and/or assisted death -- so called death-with-dignity -- is becoming legal in more states with Maine jumping on the bandwagon in 2020.

In between the womb and the tomb comes another form of state-sanctioned death: the death penalty -- capital punishment which is seen as merely a "matter of the pocketbook" -- it is cheaper to execute a prisoner than to keep him alive and in prison until natural death. The message is clear! Life is not sacred, it is cheap, it's not worth defending and there are American laws in place that protect the taking of life resulting in unnatural death of a baby and its grandma and grandpa.

Many, but not all, of recent mass shooters are "kids" -- teenagers, young adults even adolescents -- the Millennials who grew up with enhanced gun violence on TV and in the movies and in video games and on the Internet. They have become desensitized to death and think nothing of grabbing a high-powered rifle and shooting up the school because their teacher upset them, or to settle a score with a rival gang turning city streets into rivers of blood. They have not been taught how to channel their frustrations. How to deal with conflict. How to control their passions.

Over the same first weekend in August that the Texas and Ohio mass shootings occurred 53, or perhaps even as many as 68, people were shot -- depending on who is doing the counting -- basically due to gang-related violence taking place in the streets of Chicago leaving seven dead in its wake. The same first weekend in August last year (2018) saw 74 shootings leaving a dozen dead in Chicago streets.

But are not these senseless acts of gun violence also "mass shootings?" Or are these numbing numbers discounted because it is mostly black-on-black crime which is happening all across the City of Chicago and not just in a single localized area? But there is not the outrage, the President doesn't visit, prayer vigils were not held, and the national media and Washington politicians aren't clamoring for tougher Windy City gun laws.

Tougher guns laws will help some. But guns laws, even strong guns laws, are not the solution but merely a band aid over a deeper festering cultural woundedness. Only until Americans changes their very outlook on life and return to traditional Judeo-Christian morality will things slowly change. Not until each American sees life as a God-given gift, that the life God gives is sacred and precious and needs to be protected and cherished and sees that each person is made in the image and likeness of God. Things will not change. Politics cannot change a spiritual morass -- a deeply ingrained sIn sickness. More shootings will make headlines albeit in a church, a school, at a Wal-Mart or in the streets of Chicago.

A clamor will go up. Tears will be shed. Prayer vigils will be held. Politicians will politicize the event. Words fly. Heated words fly. Promises will be made. Episcopal bishops will march wearing orange stoles. And then all will be forgotten until the next time when the cycle repeats itself.

Prayer helps -- some.

"We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favour and glad to do thy will," the '28 BCP prayer For Our Country petitions. "Bless our land with honourable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues ..."

But at times I am afraid that our prayers no longer even pierce the ceiling much less make it through the clouds to God's ears. It seems that no one is taking the prayers they pray to heart. They are just mouthing empty words. Platitudes which God no longer hears.

"Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart -- and especially the hearts of the people of this land -- that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace ..." the 1979 Book of Common Prayer's petition for Social Justice pleads.

Nearly 2,500 years ago God's reached through time and space to provide a solution to America's gun violence problem in the words penned in 450 BC.

"If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)

Maybe we need to take God at His Word.

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline

Subscribe
Get a bi-weekly summary of Anglican news from around the world.
comments powered by Disqus
Prayer Book Alliance
Trinity School for Ministry

Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee

Drink Coffee

Do Good

Sustainable Ministry

Coffee, Community, Social Justice

DrinkCoffeeDoGood.com

Go To Top