Wednesday, October 04, 2017

How Did It Come to This?

A fitting question upon hearing of the Las Vegas massacre might be, “How did it come to this?” I’ve been thinking about a phrase that might provide an answer: “inevitable, predictable, but strangely unexpected.”

This actually started with a Bible study in Lamentations, not one of the sunnier books for the Bible. 1:1 begins with “How lonely sits the city ..”, paralleled in Isaiah 1 :21 with “How the faithful city has become a harlot.” How did it come to this? Well, God had made promises - threatening promises - that if Israel did not faithfully follow Him, He would bring punishment. Since God does not lie, that result was to be regarded as inevitable. Then, examining Israel’s studious inattention to God’s Word and ways, and their stubborn habit of wandering off after every other false god, the result was also predictable. What is strange is that, when God does what he says, they acted as though it were totally unexpected.

Let’s apply this to an ethical subject: spending and debt. If we spend more money than we take in, then we will inevitably go broke. But our spending patterns persist, so the end is predictable. Strangely, when we unexpectedly hit rock-bottom, we say something like, “How did it come to this?” It seems we are idiots. Inevitable, predictable, but strangely unexpected.

Now let’s go out on the limb. It seems to me that the number of unbalanced people in our society is increasing. I don’t know how to verify this, or even how to clarify the category so as not to be offensive. We are all bent by sin, some more than others. Some have lost touch with reality and are living in an alternate world of illegitimate values and bankrupt standards of decency. They cannot be trusted to live safely and responsibly among us.

Is it inevitable that such an unbalanced person will lose sense of the value of human life, and will act to destroy as many as possible? And if you place in his hands an army’s worth of weapons, is it inevitable that he will use them in ways similar to what we saw in Las Vegas a few days ago? I’m not sure. But we’ve seen this happen enough times now that it is certainly predictable.

And so, when it happens again, let’s not pretend that it is unexpected. Not unless something changes. I sincerely wish Mr. Las Vegas did not have the access to the cache of weapons that he assembled. But that is not the root of the problem. I also sincerely wish that there were not so many others like him, who are so .. (what’s the word?) .. so desperately lost.

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