Thursday, February 22, 2018

17 dead.  15 wounded.  Why did Nicholas Cruz, a 19-year-old, do what he did?  He had been taken in by a family that were shocked by his actions.  They said he was naive, but pleasant and obedient.  The only thing unusual is that he brought several guns with him when he moved in.  These were probably owned by his father, who was deceased.  Florida law allows a 19-year-old to purchase guns, or if 16 to 18, hunt with one with adult supervision.  These were kept in a gun safe and the home owner thought he had the only key.  Cruz had to ask permission to take a gun from the safe.  The family had several pets, but Cruz was not harmful to any of them.  After the shooting, police learned that Cruz was living with a family with sons that attended the school where Cruz was the shooter.

Some believe Cruz was violent toward animals, therefore it was easy to transition to humans.  Others believe he learned violence by playing video games that involved shooting and killing.  Were some of these contributing factors motivating Cruz?  If not, why did he do it?

One writer suggested that boys “are broken” when they grow up fatherless.  He writes, “The solution to male violence is not to spout off drivel about the evils of masculinity. Masculinity, channeled well, is the reason assistant football coach Aaron Feis died this week.  Feis shielded students from bullets by pushing them inside a classroom.”

Peter Hasson at The Federalist writes, “Broken homes, or homes without a physically and emotionally present mother and father, are the cause of most of society’s ills.  ‘Unstable homes produce unstable children.’” Hasson continues with, “On CNN’s list of the ‘27 Deadliest Mass Shootings in U.S. History,’ seven of those shootings were committed by young males since 2005. Of the seven, only one—Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho—was raised by his biological father throughout childhood.”

Not every male who grew up without a father traveled that path.  My father left us when I was eight and I didn’t see him again until I was almost 20.  When I was 38, my father rejected me as his son over his misunderstanding of a singular passage of scripture.  He refused all my efforts at reconciliation.  Yet, although I own several rifles and pistols and have shot more than 50,000 rounds in the past 20 years, none have been discharged toward another human beinsg.  But, I had a mother and grandparents who directed my steps!  Our home was not “unstable.”  We were taught the Bible, responsibility, and respect for others.

Hasson continues, “America’s boys are in serious trouble. As Warren Farrell’s new book, The Boy Crisis, explains, boys are experiencing a crisis of education, a crisis of mental health (as in the case of Nikolas Cruz), a crisis of purpose. And at the root of it all is fatherlessness.”

Farrell states, “‘We blame guns, violence in the media, violence in video games, and poor family values.  Each is a plausible player,’” Hasson continues by stating, “Farrell noted in 2013 after the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting. ‘But our daughters live in the same homes, with the same access to the same guns, video games, and media, and are raised with the same family values. Our daughters are not killing. Our sons are.’” Farrell continues, “Without dads as role models, boys’ testosterone is not well channeled. The boy experiences a sense of purposelessness, a lack of boundary enforcement, rudderlessness, and often withdraws into video games and video porn.  At worst, when boys’ testosterone is not well-channeled by an involved dad, boys become among the world’s most destructive forces.  When boys’ testosterone is well channeled by an involved dad, boys become among the world’s most constructive forces.”

Farrell concludes with, “To be sure, there will be those who’ll continue to blame masculinity and the NRA for the recent bout of school shootings.  But amidst their chatter are voices of reason who know all too well, either from first-hand experience or because they’re simply paying attention, that the reason boys are broken goes far deeper than policies and politics—and requires us to look at things we’d rather not.  That’s hard. But harder still is waking up to the deaths of yet more innocent children.  How many kids will have to die before we get it?”

The simplistic answer to this problem is, “confiscate all guns.”  Yet, it hasn’t stopped the slaughter of innocent people in England, Europe, or Australia where firearm possession is unlawful.  Instead, knives, hatchets, machetes, hammers, baseball bats, and pressure cookers loaded with explosives have been used.  Whoever is motivated to take innocent lives will find a way to be destructive.  An interesting solution, often overlooked by the world, states,

Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).  Who is your neighbor?  Answer, “A person who shows mercy” (Luke 10:30-37).  Too simplistic for some.  Too difficult for others!