The tragic attack on innocent school children in Newton, CT was a horrifying reminder that Rousseau was wrong, Augustine was right, and this is indeed a fallen world. No words can adequately express how cowardly and evil that man was who stalked the halls of an elementary school with a rifle and killed little children in cold blood. Here we see the Spirit of the Age embodied. We live in the culture of death in late Modernity and our’s is an age that believes that death is a solution to many social problems. But when death comes out in the daylight and strikes down children we still recoil in horror.
The reaction over the past week or so has been horrifying as well. Late Modernity is an age in which we value security and the satisfaction of our material needs as a society more highly than we value morality itself. We gladly trade away our freedom as self-governing, free moral agents in exchange for promises of protection from the fears and threats of life.
The Left joyously seized on this tragedy to exploit is as it always does and the media, political and celebrity types practically tripped over the bodies to get their faces in front of the camera so they could promise to “solve” the problem.
Yes, the Left would have us believe that they have the solution to the problem of the existence of pure evil in the world. All that is holding us back is a few more gun control laws. The headline in the National Post’s story on Obama’s speech enunciated the gist of the Leftist message perfectly concisely: “‘We Can’t Tolerate This Anymore:’ Obama Signals Action over Gun Laws.” The hubris of the left-wing smug self- assurance is breath-taking. We just need a few more laws, for the State to become just a bit bigger, for individual freedom to just shrink a little bit – and we can eliminate such tragedies. “We Can’t Tolerate It Anymore!”
But what if we have no choice but to tolerate it a bit longer? What if the human condition has not improved in 10,000 years and won’t improve in the next 10,000 years regardless of how many laws are passed and how intrusive Big Government becomes? What if the Government can’t solve this problem?
This is not a question typical late modern, Western people particularly want to consider. It smacks of dogma and of course it is rooted in a firm grasp of the dogma of original sin. But original sin is so out of date, so incompatible with left-wing dogma and so unthinkable to disciples of J. J. Rousseau, Karl Marx and John Dewey.
Nevertheless, we have to face up to reality sooner or later. Evil exists. People are sinful. No amount of government regulation, new laws or social control can change human nature. There is only one thing that can change human nature and that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If late modern, left-wingers reject the Gospel they reject the only power that can change lives and prepare human beings to look pure evil right in the eye and not blink.
Murder is evil, whether it is done in a hospital and called abortion or whether it is done at the sick bed of the elderly and depressed and called “assisted suicide.” And it is just as wrong to starve a handicapped newborn to death as it is to shoot a Kindergarten child with a rifle. Murder is evil and evil exists in this fallen world.
What if the Government cannot do anything to eradicate evil? Albert Camus is supposed to have said: “We are not so naive as to expect a world where there is no longer any murder; we work for a world in which murder is illegal.” What can Government do? It can reward the good and punish evil doers. It can recognize the natural law against taking innocent human life. It can refrain from murder itself.
The government can pass all the gun control laws it wants and it will not stop deranged young men from lashing out in their childish but deadly anger. Instead of working for an expansion of the reach of the Big State, maybe it would be better to work to reign in an out-of-control Leviathan that peremtorily dismisses those who witness to the sanctity of life and arrogates to itself the power of life and death as the solution to social problems like unwanted pregnancy, mental and physical handicaps and old age. Maybe what we need is limited government, not gun control.
The issue we all face after a tragedy like that in Newton, CT is where we will put our faith. Do we put it in the State, as millions of our fellow citizens unreflectively do? Or do we put it in God, whom the wise have always known to be the only One capable of making sense of our chaotic and dangerous world?
What if the Government can’t do anything meaningful about tragedies like this? What if the impulse to look to the State for the solution to such tragedies is part of our late modern idolatry? And what if God already has begun the process of dealing with pure evil in the birth of the One we celebrate this week?
Others may believe that the State is almighty and Obama is his prophet. I, however, reject the idol of the culture of death and refuse to listen to advocates of child murder pretending to care about the murder of the innocents. Herod has no credibility when it comes to killing children.
The God of the Bible does not kill the innocent; but he takes on human flesh and submits to death himself in order to destroy death. In two days we celebrate the birth of Jesus and the beginning of the end for pure evil.