Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virginia Tech Massacre

A tragic event brings Americans together. This is not unique to Americans, of course. It is common to mankind throughout all the world and throughout all time. It has always been this way. Tragedy unites. Fear unites.

Sort of.

When terrible things happen, when unexplainable evil happens, when fear rules the day, when sorrow and grief darken people’s lives, a sense of unity is perceived. Yet this can be deceptive.

Certainly everyone shares in the grief of this recent tragedy. Certainly everyone shares in the fear of the possible evil happening in another community. Certainly everyone wants such things to become unheard of.

Yet how do people deal with such horrible things? Perhaps this is also quite united for the majority. The major world religions are all invited to gather with the President of the country and of the university, psychological and sociological experts offer their support and comfort. Quotes from the Koran, from the Dalai Lama, even from the Bible, are shared as unanimous statements of the solemnity of life. Each representative speaks of the tragedy as a terrible cause for grief and for coming together in mutual support and acceptance, to the loud applause of those gathered. The unanimous clamor is that such terrible things cannot be explained or understood.

The last speaker at Tuesday’s Convocation, Nikki Giovanni, called the convocation participants to acknowledge their identity calling out, “We are Virginia Tech.” This is a common response to tragedy. People look to some form of communal unity, something that identifies them with one another, something that seems bigger than the singular action or circumstance that looms before them.

She continued in pointing to the fact that such tragedies are common throughout the world and no one understands why. Again the sense that unity can be found in the common lack of understanding is propped up as a facade of mutual support. She compared those suffering this tragedy to various other groups who have suffered tragedy without knowledge of why and without explanation, even reaching so far as to include baby elephants who have seen their communities slaughtered for ivory.

How exactly is this perceived as helpful? How does a community being compared to a “community” of elephants give hope for overcoming the sense of hopelessness and evil and fear and loss that they experienced?

With this view of humanity, setting a community of elephants on an equal level of identity as a community of humans grieving for lost loved ones and friends, is it really so surprising that students can lose a proper distinction and understanding of life? With evolution being taught as the origin of life and of the human race, with no clear understanding of why human life is precious, is it really surprising that a young person would lose his sense of life as precious?

In Tuesday’s convocation it was stated over and over in various ways that all religions teach that life is sacred and to be protected.

Yet the prevailing religion taught in all secular universities is that of secular humanism, combined with evolution. These teach that each person answers to himself. These teach that life is random and without purpose except for whatever self-determined purpose a person chooses, and perhaps society affirms.

Babies are not human and have no rights until they are born. Old people who outlive their usefulness (economic independence or voting capacity) are a burden. However, when babies and old people are loved and wanted by family, then they are viable and of countless worth and no amount of effort and money is to be spared in protecting them from harm and death.

The entertainment industry continually bombards people with the doctrine that greed is good because it serves to promote high aspirations; that revenge is justified when one does not feel vindicated through ordinary means; that sex is for self-gratification and that sex and love are synonymous concepts; that morality is an ambiguous notion that cannot be legislated; and that the government is responsible for supplying everyone with every want and need.

Then, the Bible, the Gospel in particular, is forbidden in the schools and mocked and vilified by the government and media. Simultaneously, as the doctrine of Christ is rejected, every other religious source of the world is praised as promoting peace and harmony.

When a society accepts the doctrine that mankind must rely upon his own efforts and knowledge for salvation from the world’s evils, and simultaneously mankind is taught that he is no different than an elephant in understanding and identity, how is a poor and disillusioned young man like Cho Seung Hui to find hope and peace?

Of all the religions of the world, one stands out from the rest as a religion of ultimate hope and peace. Christianity is the only religion that directs the hearts of men to a source of peace that is given freely. In Christ mankind encounters a very different God, the God who cares more for people than for His own dignity. In Christ mankind comes face to face with the God who declares Himself not only to be one who demands love, but the One who IS love. In Christ mankind hears a word of peace that truly surpasses all understanding, and yet fills the person’s heart with understanding and compassion and hope and joy and contentment. In Christ mankind meets the God who says,

I have purchased you from the destruction that you encounter in your own hearts and souls. I have paid the price for your redemption by entering into the world as a man and suffering all evil in my own flesh. I suffered the rejection and pain and loss of every human soul. I carried these to hell and rose again in the flesh to guarantee for all that freedom is now not merely a dream, but reality. You do not need to seek for your identity and you do not need to seek for peace. I restore your identity and I will be your peace. It is not up to you, dear child. I have done it for you. Trust Me, and you will see.

Mankind can seek to acquire knowledge, but in that knowledge he can never be certain. Mankind can theorize, but never prove beyond any doubt. Yet there is one who stands as living proof of the hope that all the world seeks. His name is Jesus. He stands at the right hand of power, not to tell us what to do, but to intercede for us. He pleads our cause and offers us everlasting hope and peace and joy. He has proven His love beyond any doubt. May His love be the hope that people hear in their many encounters with what is evil in this world. May the fact of His loving sacrifice be the source of certainty in a world that offers only doubt and fear and uncertainty and unending questions.

If only Professor Giovanni had directed Cho Seung Hui to Jesus rather than to a psychiatrist, poor Cho would have been given the riches of God’s grace, mercy, and peace. Instead his despair was amplified by being turned to yet another of mankind’s desperate attempts at self redemption. When people truly rely upon the God of Love and the Prince of Peace, they know a very different identity from those who seek to find love and peace on their own.

Soon this tragedy will fade. A few will ache for the rest of their lives. The Media will turn to the next tragedy and make big news of it for a brief time. Then another tragedy will be the news. However, the greatest tragedy of all remains the world’s self-chosen ignorance concerning the true source of hope and peace and love. God grant that the true community of peace and never ending hope will stand up and call out with boldness concerning the One who brings mankind into this everlasting community of peace, hope, and joy.

In the name of Jesus!

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