Like most of us, I’m still trying to get my mind around the violence perpetrated in the neighboring city of San Bernardino yesterday. The meaning of it all eludes definition. Ironically, it was about the time I was online blogging about violence when a married couple in their 20s shot and killed 14 people and wounded 21 more. The couple died a short time later in a shootout with police. Their bodies were extracted from a bullet ridden SUV not far from the original crime scene. This morning, Kerry Heinrich, Loma Linda University Medical Center CEO, addressed the media to add some perspective related to treating the victims and dealing with a bomb scare.
Media coverage being what it is these days, you probably know as much or more about this than I do. And as you know, there are no adequate explanations. Strangely, or perhaps predictably, both those involved and the public automatically put the event in some kind of religious context. While many asked for prayers, a newspaper headline in New York shouted “God Isn’t Fixing This.” It was a protest against praying politicians who do nothing to pass effective gun control legislation.
Speculations continue to range from terrorism, workplace grudges, or some sort of personal agenda. A media consultant and former FBI agent described one plausible motive by saying the couple may have acted on a personal vendetta under the cloak of Islam. Throughout the day experts and commentators seemed to lean more and more toward the terrorist explanation. In any case, I suggest it points to something far more systemic and intractable than a just a person’s religion, politics, or personal lifestyle. It points to the human condition.
The impulse to kill our fellow human beings is one way to describe the original sin. It fulfills the satanic promise that by sharing in the rebellion of Adam and Eve, we would know both good and evil. We are both good and evil. Great evil, hostility, selfish motives, and pure senselessness has been on display. But so has the opposite, in heroism, care for the victims, and a conviction that we must not accept the worst part of ourselves as normal.
It’s almost Christmas, which is the celebration of a life that began in the context of violence. And it also ended in horrible violence. But there is more. Thank God for more. There is resurrection. Let us celebrate the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.