Evil exists in the world! It is an undeniable fact of life and it does not matter what laws we put in place to prevent bad things from happening. Bad things will nevertheless happen! That is a cold hard fact of life. Each time there is a shooting like what happened in Florida yesterday, politicians immediately get on their soap boxes to call for more laws that the say would prevent similar incidents from happening. These atrocities become the vessel for politicians to seek their self-interest, and they do it with the self-righteous gusto and proclamation that it is all for the children. As the situation on the ground unfolded, before all the facts were even known about what transpired, Senator Mike Murphy declared that the epidemic of mass slaughter is because of inaction by congress, suggesting that all we need from Congress is to institute more laws and magically, bad things will not happen anymore. Absent from the pontifications that these politicians give is the issue that is at the core of these horrific events.
Sure laws matter, we cannot have a society that has no laws, but laws alone will not help. There are many other countries around the world that have tougher gun laws but with much higher murder rates. Mr. Murphy will do well to remember that Timothy McVeigh committed his act of carnage using fertilizer, the 911 terrorists used two airplanes, in Norway where there are strict gun laws, Mr. Anders Brevik killed dozens despite these gun laws. But none of this is the point . The deeper issue is to confront the mindset that leads people to commit such vicious acts.
What is it that would drive an individual to make a conscious decision to slaughter innocent, defenseless people in this manner? One of the reasons that we often hear given is that people are mentally ill. That too may be true, but is it at the heart of why all of these incidents keep happening as often as they do? If one considers different scenarios where people commit these acts, mental heath may not be the prime reason for these appalling acts. When MAJ Hassan Nadal opened fire on his fellow Soldiers in Fort Hood, it was not mental illness that drove him to do that. The same can be said for the San Bernardino killers. Timothy McVeigh was not mentally ill. Across the world where these horrific acts are committed, the reasons are often not mental illness. It was not mental illness that drove a young man to enter the home of an Israeli family, killing everyone, including a baby that was just a few months old, by slitting the baby’s throat. These incidents are driven by a different motivator. Warlords in Africa and the people who willingly follow them and terrorize their own people, committing some of the most brutal acts that make Hitler look like Saint Hitler, do not commit their acts because they are mentally disturbed. Of course, it sometimes figures into the equation, but it may be a mistake to think that is the main problem. It may sound simplistic, but the main problem comes down to a question of values and the condition of the heart.
While everything has to be placed on the table in trying to solve this issue, and consideration given to all options, and applied where practicable, the question of evil cannot be ignored. The values that have served the country well for a very long time have to be reinforced across our society so that the idea of committing such an act would indeed be something rare if not completely eliminated. Human beings have proven their capacity for committing horrific acts of evil, and it will continue like that, but perhaps in our society, the values that we instill from early on can make us on of the rare places where this does not happen. If we do not deal with the issue of the heart every other solution will be just a band aid.