“Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel…” (Genesis 49:7)
Griot Gil Scott Heron once said that America leads the world in shock. He was right and this past week America and the world was in shock yet again after the massacre in Las Vegas in which 58 people were murdered and over 500 were wounded in a shooting.
And America did what it always does in the aftermath of horrific killings, and they are becoming greater in number and more frequent: it looks for the reason why the event happened.
There is no need for any deep, profound thinking to find the cause. The foundation for these killings is America is infected with hate and anger. The infection is so wide spread that none of the traditional rules of diagnosis apply. Even worse is that the social and political climate spreads the sickness and encourages those affected to express the illness any way they please.
The internet is so vitriolic and so consumed by hate-filled messages there seems to be little else. People do not just disagree with each other anymore; they vilify and make personal attacks all because someone thinks differently from them. The disagreement can be about politics, the church, school, marriage, homosexuality- it really doesn’t matter. America is more divided than ever before and there seems to very little agreement about anything in this country.
The country has devolved into tribalism. It is Black against white, old versus the young, the South against the North, the West opposed to the East, women against men, rich against the poor; Democrat opposing Republican and the Independents against both. Name calling, attacking family members and deliberately lying is accepted behavior everywhere.
Meanwhile the President of the country leads the nation in these kinds of ad holmium attacks. Nor does he mind lying about someone if it serves his purpose. This divided America where identity politics dominates rational thinking is the America the President wants to see. He determinedly misrepresented what NFL players were protesting to further divide America. He would prefer political chaos to government order, hyperbole to truth and separation to unity. His public statements have endorsed racism and his behavior has endorsed the sexual harassment of women.
Finally, there is this: we cannot expect the disease that gave life to what happened to Las Vegas to stop spreading unless the people of this country understand the cause of this madness and who carries it. Think of the fact that the killer in this case was a older white male, who was wealthy, professional, educated, connected to a loving family, a close personal friend for companionship, but none of the lone wolf stereotypes apply to him. Yet rage and hatred filled his mind and fueled his behavior and led him to kill as many people as he could.
How many more like him are walking around waiting to explode or even now planning to vent their baseless rage by snatching someone’s life?
So what are we to do? The Bible answers that best: “put your trust in no man” and like the men of Issachar “have understanding of the times.” I don’t see things getting better.