It’s taken a couple of days to formulate the words for this post. I’ve spent time reflecting on the tragic event that occurred this past week, along with reading a variety of thoughts and opinions.
On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2018, one of the deadliest school shootings occurred. The lives of 17 people were taken and 15 more were injured. It’s logical to seek answers for how this act of violence could occur. Why did the killer do it? How was he able to obtain the arsenal to commit this horrific crime? Essentially, we want to know…who is at fault?
As in most tragedies involving guns, the blame gets placed on the weapon. The NRA is responsible. The lack of gun control is the cause. Mental illness is oftentimes blamed. A failure of the FBI has been a specific source of blame in this case. But I have also seen fault placed on Republicans and gun owners in general.
Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed the past few days, I have observed people trying to find answers. If God was allowed in the schools, this wouldn’t happen. If kids didn’t play violent video games, this wouldn’t happen. If guns didn’t exist, this wouldn’t happen. Protests by students are being formulated. There is even a movement aimed at teachers going on strike.
Regardless of what any of us believe about the aforementioned issues, one of the factors that seems to be getting lost in the midst of our seeking answers, is that the gunman is at fault. He is responsible for killing 17 people and injuring 15 more. Using this situation to take a stand for what we personally believe, well, it’s detracting from the responsibility of the person who consciously made a decision to inflict harm on others.
Personal responsibility is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Working in a school, I see it all the time. More parents blame the school, the teachers or other students for the wrong choices being made by his/her child. I can’t tell you the number of situations we’ve encountered this year where students have clearly done something wrong (sometimes resulting in a suspension) and the parent blames everyone else but the child.
In my own family, I’ve seen a close relative (who is addicted to drugs) blame everyone and everything for their struggles. Divorce blamed on the other person. Friends making bad choices because of what someone else did. Fault placed anywhere else but on self.
However, misplaced blame is nothing new. From the dawn of creation, we have learned how to master the art of blaming someone else. Eve blamed the serpent for disobeying God. Adam blamed Eve.
Honestly, I’m tired of people using these types of circumstances to further their agenda. At the same time, I get why we do it. We’re trying to make sense out of senselessness. But in the course of doing that, we’re lifting fault from the wrongdoer.
We have to take personal responsibility for our choices.
With or without gun control, people will still commit violent acts. With or without God in the schools, people will continue to do wrong things. Protests and strikes might get our voice heard but it won’t solve the issue of sin in a person’s heart.
Placing blame on everything and everyone else is a trap that won’t free us from the issues of the heart. Not addressing the evil that’s within us, won’t change our choices. While a tragedy of this magnitude is certainly an example of putting the blame elsewhere, the truth is that we may fall into the same pattern in our day-to-day living.
We get impatient and blame the slow cashier. We snap at our children and blame the fact we’re tired. We get a speeding ticket and blame the police officer for not focusing on “more important matters.” We’re frustrated at work and blame it on our boss’s demands. We lose our cool and we blame it on “that time of the month.”
I mean, the excuses are endless.
What if instead, we adopted the mindset of what we read in Romans 7:24…What a wretched man I am! The NLT version says, “What a miserable person I am!”
Self-awareness of our wretchedness allows us to not only take personal responsibility but the opportunity to reach the grace of forgiveness…the glory of redemption…and the hope of change.
Let’s stop pointing the finger at others and turn it inward. Let’s not make excuses for what we do. We may have our personal beliefs and issues that we take a stand on, but may it never detract from the reality of our sin sickness and our need for a Savior.