Restoring Humanity

I sat at my desk Friday trying to process the shocking news as it came in while attempting to stay focused on my work while deadlines approached. As I tried to imagine the pain and grief the parents and families were feeling a sense of anger came over me wondering how we allowed ourselves to get to this point.

We heard an emotional President give a heartfelt address which pierced his own eyes with tears. Parents went home from work that night and held their children so tightly, thankful that they were still together. With heavy hearts they offered prayers for those who just hours earlier had their children taken from them. The media gave complete coverage to this horrific massacre and all too soon began speculating as to what the cause may be. Only hours later turning it into a gun control debate, as if the government can prevent this kind of evil.

I logged onto my facebook later that night to see so many people offering prayer and condolences, but also many comments filled with confusion. So many asking how could this happen, what is wrong with people, how is such cruelty possible, why innocent kindergartners?

This shooting was horrific, tragic, a senseless massacre of innocent victims, but this seems to only be a symptom of a greater problem. When we push so hard to remove God from our society, whether it’s the Ten Commandments in a court house, nativity displays in public buildings or prayer in schools do we also not realize that with this comes consequences. That when we voluntarily say no to having God as a part of our lives the society will also reflect it and will truly become a God-less nation.

The media will continue to speculate and politicize as to why this happened, but I am afraid they won’t get it right. Unless they go much deeper, the root of the problem will never be discussed and unfortunately events like this will continue to happen. It is time we realize that respect for human life at all its stages has been lost; the unborn child in the womb, the kindergartner at school, the homeless and forgotten, the elderly and terminally ill.

We are truly living in a culture of death and at times have become numb to so much of what we hear. The immediate reaction is to call for gun control, higher security, and pat downs, but how can we expect children to be safe in schools if they are not even safe in the womb or in their own homes? Blessed Mother Teresa was prophetic in saying, “If we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? “

Now just days away from Christmas when we celebrate Christ coming as a child to restore humanity, let us make an effort to bring light and life to a culture which knows not. The transformation begins in our own hearts, recognizing first our own dignity and the dignity of those whom God has placed in our midst. Unfortunately these events are easily forgotten as we go back to our daily routines, but perhaps this time we can strive to make a difference in our homes, churches and places of work. As we look at the Babe in the manger may we too exemplify the greatest gift of all, the gift of life!

Cassie Everts

By

Cassie Everts is a producer for The Drew Mariani Show on Relevant Radio. She blogs at ThePowerofLife.org. She has been married 4 years and has a degree in Communications TV/Radio and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville.

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  • Edy

    You present some very good points.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jake.duncan.144 Jake Duncan

    Nine times out of ten, these shooters have turned out to have some form of mental problem, as evidenced by the fact that so many of them, after carrying out their heinous acts of slaughter, turn their guns on themselves. There is a very insightful article at msn.com about this issue as it relates to the spate of shootings in the last 10-15 years, about a mother and her mentally ill son.
    At the end of the day, there’s one thing true about all of this: Over the years, various methods have been tried to curb the rising tendency toward violence, but each one has only made matters worse. Personally, I am convinced that, as long as they so assiduously leave God out of the equation, that is the only result they are ever going to get.

  • edmund burk

    this is a good time to turn to God.

  • http://rationaldreaming.com/ Mike

    “as if the government can prevent this kind of evil.”

    —-

    Why do you so blithely dismiss the possibility when governments all around the world can and do prevent this kind of evil from happening though sensible gun control measures?

    Certainly, no government can stop them all from happening, but in other countries these are once in a generation events not happening several times a year. Assault weapons bans, licensing of all guns, requirements on gun owners to keep their weapons and ammo securely stored in safes, limits on the size of the clips, etc. etc. they all can and do prevent school massacres from happening.

    Now, I am not naive enough to believe all this can happen here in the USA — it would be a miracle if even we even manage to reinstate the assault weapons ban and/or close the gun show loophole, but the debate is *always* worth having when our children’s lives are at stake. If Lanza did not have easy access to legally owned semi-automatic weapons, then 20 young children would have still been alive today.

  • Laura K

    Educating ourselves better about mental illness and helping provide assistance for counseling and good psychiatric care, especially for young adults without health insurance might help a lot too.

  • http://rationaldreaming.com/ Mike

    ” It is time we realize that respect for human life at all its stages has
    been lost; the unborn child in the womb, the kindergartner at school,
    the homeless and forgotten, the elderly and terminally ill.”

    —-

    Again, your assertion simply does not add up when you look at the lack of frequent mass shootings in other countries, like Canada, the UK, Sweden, or Australia. None of these other nations is as remotely as Catholic or religiously observant as the United States, yet the mass shootings only happen there once in a generation, if that, not once every couple of months (or more) as here in the States.

    Given that religious observance is far lower in these countries, contraception is widely promoted, and abortion has been fully legal for decades, why then are they not suffering even worse depredations on their children and helpless than here in America (or Catholic countries like Italy or Ireland for that matter)?

    The truth is that people don’t need to turn to God for society to be a safe place to live. In fact, overall, western world is a far safer place to live (yes, even the USA) than at any other time in history, throughout most of which the vast majority of people were Catholic and Protestant faithful.

    The US is unique in two ways in the democratic world — it has virtually no restrictions on gun ownership, and thus they have proliferated throughout society, including inevitably, the criminal classes. It is also has the most authoritarian view on justice, by far, which results in a culture of increasing punishment, with almost no effort to reform criminals. As a result we have *seven* *times* as many citizens in jail here than nations like France and Germany (per capita), and they are also dealing with issues of immigration and integration of different cultures.

    This is a travesty for a nation that prides itself as the “Land of the Free” and yet I haven’t ever heard anyone on Relevant Radio talking about it (unlike, say, the neverending coverage of Obamacare provisions you don’t like). Likewise with the frequent use of the death penalty in the USA — something even you managed to omit mentioning in your article even though it is a culture of death practice that is diametrically against the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

    The fact that Americans are much more religiously observant than the French or Germans (more than double when comparing the active churchgoers) clearly doesn’t make a lick of difference when it comes to murder rates (much higher) and mass shootings (far, far, higher). If you really want to make the correlation between religious observance and violence in society (and I suspect you do not) then the only conclusion you can reach is that more religion is not the answer.

    I have lived in Texas for almost 20 years, after growing up in the UK, and it never ceases to amaze me when Americans make bold assertions about the way lack of religion is to blame for all kinds of evils in the country when far less religious nations all over the planet do not suffer the same kind of problems (not to even close to the same extent, anyway).

    What is particularly disappointing about your piece is that as a Catholic, with an international figurehead in the Pope, you should really know better than this. Appeals to turn back to God are fine, it’s a free country after all, and it certainly can’t hurt, but please do not dismiss genuine efforts on behalf of individuals and government organizations to call for efforts to implement measures that have already been proven to work in other countries. This is not about politicizing the debate, it’s about having a debate at all, given how successful the gun lobby has been in squelching all opposition to their increasingly extreme agenda.

  • http://rationaldreaming.com/ Mike

    Agreed. Mental health care funding is sorely lacking (many private health plans do not cover it at all) and many parents have to resort to the criminal justice system (i.e. get their children arrested) before they get any kind of public assistance at all, which is an appalling prospect.

    I know this is not a popular view around here, but while not perfect by any means, some form of national healthcare would help a lot, as happens in just about every other modern democratic nation on the planet.

  • dan

    Home-Alone America

    by Mary Eberstadt
    In early march, when the latest teenage killer to
    make national news opened fire in a high school near San Diego with the
    deadliest display of such violence since the murders at Columbine two
    years ago, the usual public scramble for explanations of his behavior
    followed true to what a sociologist would call “cultural script.” The New York Times
    weighed in immediately with a stern editorial about “Guns in Young
    Hands,” urging President Bush to take serious action — or at least what
    the Times means by serious — namely to convene a White House
    conference on teen violence. Reporters from the news services fanned out
    across the country to interview as many acquaintances of the killer as
    they could lay cameras on — most of which witnesses, as has likewise
    become customary, would earnestly testify that nothing about the boy
    ever seemed amiss. Also true to form, a disproportionate share of the
    “blame” for the young killer’s actions was deposited not quite at his
    own feet (“an obviously troubled young teenager,” as the Washington Post
    editorialized and just about all other sources agreed), nor at those of
    the adults around him, but rather upon his peers — the bullies who
    tormented him, the acquaintances who dismissed his threats to “bring the
    school down” as idle boasts, the fellow drinkers at a party the weekend
    before who had heard the killer say he had a gun he was taking to
    school and did nothing about it.

    In fact, in what appears to have become cultural routine in these
    matters, just about every detail of the case would turn out to be
    reported and analyzed at length, with the New York Times even waxing lyrical about a “Joan Didion world of dropouts and tough teenagers.” Every detail, that is, but one — that, as the Washington Post
    did manage to relay deep into a story on the teenager’s clueless
    friends, “[He] was known as a latch-key child who often ate dinner and
    slept over at friends’ homes.” Piecemeal, in various reports and in a
    handful of opinion columns, other details of the killer’s family life
    and lack of it filled in the blanks. The child of a decade-old divorce,
    he had resided, loosely speaking, with his father in California. He was a
    boy left largely to his own devices, who slept elsewhere much of the
    time, who called his friends’ mothers “Mom.” He had spent the preceding
    summer with neither parent, but instead in Knoxville, Md., with the
    family of former neighbors there. His mother, distraught and horrified
    by events as any mother would be, was giving her anguished interviews
    from behind a closed door where she herself lived — on the other side of
    the country, in South Carolina.

    The reason why so little was made of what would once have been judged
    meaningful facts — that this latest killer was one more unsupervised,
    motherless boy — is not elusive. Of all the explosive subjects in
    America today, none is as cordoned off, as surrounded by rhetorical
    landmines, as the question of whether and just how much children need
    their parents — especially their mothers. The reasons for this cultural
    code of silence are twofold. One is the fact that divorce, which is now
    so widespread that nearly everyone is personally affected by it in one
    way or another, is so close to qualifying as the national norm that a
    sizeable majority of Americans have tacitly, but nonetheless decidedly,
    placed the whole phenomenon beyond public judgment.1
    Moreover, for all that divorce itself shows signs of leveling off at
    its current (albeit unprecedented) rate, illegitimacy, for its part,
    continues to rise. Putting these two facts together — divorce and out-of
    wedlock births — means that the country is guaranteed a steady quotient
    of single-parent, which is to say, often absent-parent, homes. The fact
    that many of the women now heading those homes would choose otherwise
    if they could means that public sympathy and private compassion,
    including the desire not to add to their already heavy burden by
    criticizing any aspect of how they handle it, quite naturally go out to
    them.

    The second fact of life that constrains public discussion of just
    what and how much children need is, of course, the exodus of women —
    meaning mothers, both divorced and otherwise — out of the home and into
    the workplace. Like divorce, but even more so, this massive and
    unprecedented experiment in mother-child separation is essentially
    off-limits for public debate. Again, the reason why is plain to see. At a
    time when a good many households include working mothers, and a good
    many people benefit from their work, whether financially in the
    household or via their companionship and productivity in the workplace
    itself, public and private circumspection on the question of how all
    these absences taken together are affecting American children
    obviously runs deep. The combination of individual compassion for the
    circumstances in which many adults find themselves, alongside the
    profound desire to see no evil, whether in one’s own home or anyone
    else’s, has produced a modern social prohibition of almost primeval
    force. And as the example of the latest high school shootings proves, so
    powerful is this prohibition against questioning anything that a parent
    might want to do that it will hold firm even in the wake of a
    sensational killing spree.

  • George Marshall

    Good points Mike.

    Dan, you talk about kids being left alone. I will not disagree, but from what I read, this boy did have his mother around and was home schooled. I am not saying home schooling had anything to do with this, but I in this case it does not appear your article is relevant.

  • nah

    The comparison between the US and the countries you admire are not even close to being similar. The population in the US is larger than all of the countries you mentioned combined. The youth demographic and birth rates are also larger in the US. The young and presumably non-religious are committing most of these crimes not old pensioners hoping not to be euthanized.

    Europe is on the verge of a demographic winter, thanks mainly to abortion, that will be more devastating than any of the World Wars and revolutions its secular ideologues unleashed on humanity.
    The diversity of the US population is greater than anywhere else in the world, which unfortunately, leads to more opportunities for division by those in search of power. The US is the world leader in media and entertainment. Sadly, this is the main source of the debasement of our culture, character and influence in the world.

    Most importantly, and I know you probably cannot relate to this, America is the last country that evil needs to conquer. There is no country left on earth that has a chance to defend liberty. If there is, please tell me who.
    The bottom line is that we’re in a spiritual battle. Secularism will never defeat evil, only faith and obedience to God’s laws will. Save the comparisons. Face the fact that evil is among us. What’s the alternative? Weak human detterents or divine power over evil.

  • http://rationaldreaming.com/ Mike

    Thanks for replying, but you are mistaken. The important term here is “per capita” — that’s how you compare like with like, even though the countries have different population sizes.

    The demographic distribution of ages between the US and the countries I mention may be different, but they’re not *that* different. The distribution only varies by a few percentage points. For example (in 2010):

    France
    0-14 years: 18.7%
    15-64 years: 63.8%
    65 years and over: 17.5%

    United States
    0-14 years: 20%
    15-64 years: 66.5%
    65 years and over: 13.5%

    While I grant this difference might be enough to increase the crime rates by say, 30% (which would be large in itself) it certainly doesn’t warrant an incarceration rate difference of an astounding 700%.

    France, with its large, growing (and youthful) and oft alienated North African immigrant population is no stranger to societal fractures, yet it manages to keep its violent crime rates under control without resorting to mass incarceration.

    American youths commit murders at almost 20 times the rate of French youths, and that is a figure that is not dependent on the size of the population.

    (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_com_by_you_per_cap-murders-committed-youths-per-capita)

    As for your point about a “European demographic winter,” well, that’s just nonsense. Birth rates are up in France and the UK in recent years, even as the US rate declines. But either way, this has absolutely nothing to do with the issue being discussed, which is how best to tackle the horrible problem of mass shootings of innocent children.

    The problem isn’t the popular media either. Where do you think all the movies and most of the TV shows and violent video games Europeans consume come from? The US, of course. Yet somehow those same shows and games don’t turn the French, Brits, and Germans into mass shooting killing machines. Try again.

    “America is the last country that evil needs to conquer.”

    Seriously? So 100 years of slavery wasn’t evil? And the next 100 years of institutionalized discrimination against black people wasn’t evil? That’s almost the entire American history given over to one of the greatest evils man can perpetrate on another man. I’m sorry, but there is nothing about the USA spiritually that makes it special. (And such an assertion is completely unbiblical.) It has stood up for a lot of good things over the years, but it’s only because of its unmatched ability to project military might that it’s had such a prominent role on the world stage over the last century. Even as they helped conquer the Nazis in WWII they were lynching black people back home for daring to speak to a white woman.

    “Save the comparisons”

    Ah yes, what was it I said…?

    “I have lived in Texas for almost 20 years, after growing up in the UK,
    and it never ceases to amaze me when Americans make bold assertions
    about the way lack of religion is to blame for all kinds of evils in the
    country when far less religious nations all over the planet do not
    suffer the same kind of problems (not to even close to the same extent,
    anyway).”

    Thank you for proving my point.

  • http://rationaldreaming.com/ Mike

    Again, none of these issues is unique to America. Divorce, single parents, working mothers, out-of-wedlock births, and latch-key kids are all just as commonplace in Western European countries, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (if not more so), and yet murder rates are far lower there than they are here, and mass shootings are many times rarer than in the USA.

    Perhaps people don’t bring up these issues when debating the causes of mass shootings like Sandy Brook because they are clearly not the proximate cause — it’s easy access to guns (and maybe also the lack of available mental healthcare).

    The bottom line is that we live in an armed society — far more armed and less regulated than any comparable nation (other well armed nations, like Israel and Switzerland have far stricter regulations concerning gun safety and use). The sizable gap in the number of gun deaths of all types (murders, mass killings, suicides, and accidents) between the USA and the rest of these countries clearly has to do with the fact that we are living in a country that is awash with unregulated firearms. There is simply no getting around it.

    If that’s what the people want, then fine, but it is borderline insane to deny that it has anything to do with the large number of shooting deaths we have in this country.

  • http://rationaldreaming.com/ Mike

    Thanks, George. I agree we don’t have enough evidence to blame any one specific factor within the family that led to the tragedy. What is becoming clearer is that the reason the guns were in the house in the first place was because the mother had bought into the wingnut-driven idea of a coming total breakdown in society precipitated by a world economic collapse.

    Unfortunately the extreme rhetoric and paranoia propagated by rabble rousers like Alex Jones and Glenn Beck can have unforeseen real world consequence. They want people to believe that everything connected with the government is a conspiracy to destroy them and their way of life. They weren’t the proximate cause of this tragedy, but they helped enable it to happen.

  • http://rationaldreaming.com/ Mike

    I have another question (if anyone is still listening at this point!)

    It’s all very well to say that Americans should turn back to God and all will be good again (not that it ever was before), but what are the chances of that happening?

    Given that the number of non-believers in the youngest generation (the Millennials) is rising as never before (now 34% and still rising) the odds of that happening would seem to be remote.

    So, what should Catholics do when that doesn’t happen (and continues not to happen)? Just wash their hands of the situation and say “well, if they won’t listen to us…”?

    At some point Catholics are going to have to face up to the fact that America will soon be a majority secular nation (in many ways it already is) and the tide is not likely to turn the other way (there are no examples of that happening in other nations). Will they then finally be willing to engage in a realistic debate about what can be done about the epidemic of gun violence and mass incarceration in this nation?

  • nah

    Look, I have no problem with stricter gun laws and I never said that the lack of these laws wouldn’t have prevented this tragedy from happening. Obviously, if there wasn’t a gun used by a killer, then lives wouldn’t have ended by a gun. The same can be said about a knife or a bomb or a plane.

    I don’t care about winning your pee-pee match, it’s all yours. Once the race card is played, the debate is over and not worth winning.

    If slavery is considered the United States greatest evil, then the abolishment of slavery and civil rights is our greatest repentance. Christianity and the Catholic church had a lot to do with that reversal of evil and restoration of human dignity, not secularism.
    Thanks to European mastery of the slave trade, especially by the British and Dutch, black humanity became a commodity that was all to easy to overlook. Can we say the same for the unborn today?

    I get your narrow point, but I object to you taking any references to returning our culture back to a culture of life as an opportunity to bash faith, religion and especially the Catholic church; that’s your broader purpose.

    Throw out all the statistics you want about secular societies versus relatively religious ones. Evil is the source of this heart breaking loss of innocent life, just as evil is behind every attack on human dignity and value. As long as the culture of death, in all its compassionate disguises and manifestations are allowed to persist, death will thrive.

    It’s a waste of time and energy expecting evil to be fair in its designs and machinations. Frankly, I’d rather try to understand the mind on God than the logic of Satan. Truth is easy to follow and is meant for the childlike, deceit sets up the proud for nothing but the fall.

  • Dan

    The boy in question was was from a single parent home…his parents were divorced. This is exactly what the article is discussing. The mother must be the breadwinner because the father is no longer around so the boy was likely on his own much of the time. Home Alone America…children left to raise themselves.

  • Denise Morales

    I could not agree more! The display for the love of GOD is not what it should be! We are all sinners and those children were pure Angels. Our nation has forgotten the true importance of life and respect for one another. I could only hope and pray for more peace all around the world! Until then I will live a faithful life, respect others and I trust that God will have my hand through my GIFT of life!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ella.warnock.7 Ella Warnock

    The Lanzas divorced in 2009, when Adam was 17. He did not spend his entire childhood in a single-parent home, and his mother home schooled him.

  • chaco

    I know how you feel ie; I grope for an answer to why my car is making a funny noise, just so I can feel consoled by thinking I know how to fix it. As you claim Europe has found the answer, do you recall the recent masacre (Norway I believe) where a gunman went to a youth camp (on an island I think) and killed many(I think it was over 80). Our Church teaches that we are in “Church Militant”, as opposed to “Church sufferring” (Purgatory) or “Church Triumphant” (Heaven). It seems that if we start with that proper perspective, the only way to prevent bad guys with guns is to have good guys with guns.

  • rosebud

    Your reasoning reminds me of an insight I heard about why so many are buying into the “if you question my behavior, you are judgmental ! ” nature of our culture. The insight was; We don’t challenge other’s values because it would result in the examination of our own. Isn’t this the clever trick of “The Enemy of Truth” ? ; Using our own personal shame to assert that the only way for World peace is to eliminate Truth with Relativism (there is no Truth except what is RELATIVE to my own experience & appetites). Things haven’t changed much since Jesus in front of Pilot ; Jesus- “I have come to bear witness to the Truth. Those who seek Truth hear me.” Pilot- “Truth – What is Truth ? ” (Jn 18: 37-38). Only Truth sets us free, but Truth without love/ mercy is arrogance & Love without Truth is mere sentiment.

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