17 February 2018

The Dignity of Each One - Too Precious to Lose

17 FEBRUARY 2018. In the wake of another school shooting, our hearts yearn to hear comforting words. We want to believe this will be the last. We want to believe that there is a way to prevent these terrible events. We want healing. We want answers to what went wrong. We want justice. We want to believe that everything will be okay.

The truth is that comforting words will soothe, but not reach to the heart of what is the matter with our culture and our nation. Comforting words are balm, but we need to take a harder look at why innocent children and teachers are targeted, and how a single individual can become so hardened and callus to carry out such a horrific act.

It is a waste of effort, misplaced from searching for the truth of these matters, to spend all of our energy on the means by which individuals injure another. Gun control legislation will not protect the innocent, in and of itself. We need a deeper look at the culture here.

How many parents allow their children to play first-person shooter video games? How many parents were raised playing such games? How many parents get married, divorced, remarried, and divorced again, in the plain view of children? How many of us yell and cuss at others in traffic, in the isolation of our vehicles, but in sight of our children? How many of us support so-called pro-choice or pro-women's positions which devalue human life as a decision that can be made to discard it? How may parents prioritize respect for others in their children's daily lessons? How many of us live in a selfless manner, seeking the good of others and the common good?

Difficult questions need an honest appraisal and answers that seek to turn each of us, individually, toward a way of life that recognizes the dignity of each other. Our lives should radiate that.

If children grow up in broken homes, witnessing disposable relationships, and spending their entertainment time killing virtual enemies on video games, we are not supporting a culture that upholds the dignity of the other. We are supporting the events that unfold in school shootings, and everyday violence where respect for the lives of others is incinerated in the fire of evil.

There will be those that call for gun control as a solution. Though it could be helpful in denying disturbed individuals the means to carry out violence on a broader scale, it is not a solution.

The solution is to respect and love one another. This is not the love on display in a Hallmark Card:  squishy, emotional, gushing, and trivialized. Love is a choice. That choice is to recognize the value of the other and act in a manner that respects it.

Parents should teach their children this love and model it in their daily lives. First, parents model love for their children in how they interact with each other. Second, parents have the responsibility to teach this love each day, and admonish children so that the lessons are learned well.

Fundamentally, this love is Christian because it comes from the very heart of who we are as individuals; creatures of a loving God, made in His image, with a share in the divine through our immortal souls. Our Lord and Savior gave us the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves (cf. Luke 10:27), but how many of us who profess to be Christians really live this out?

If you go to church on Sunday, but let your children spend hours each day playing Call of Duty--killing others in a virtual reality--are you living out Christ's call?

It does not matter whether an individual professes a Christian faith, or not, it is written on our hearts and on our being that it is unnatural and wrong--at a basic level of humanity--to harm the innocent. So, how can we not live in a society and culture that upholds the dignity of each individual?

We are all responsible.

But there is hope. All of us can change because each of us with the faculties of reason and judgment can modify our behavior. Each of can live as one that is respectful of the dignity of others. This is our call, and it is not beyond our reach or hope. We have only to try.


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