I suppose now that a few news cycles have past, most Americans have already forgotten about the school house shooting at an Amish school in Pennsylvania. That’s too bad, because it is specifically this short attention span that continues to shipwreck humans in general and Americans in particular. The Amish Incident, as I shall call it, illustrates a few points I have always maintained, but is filled with its own ironic emphases at the same time.
Let’s start with the irony. Here you have a group of people that have gone out of their way to isolate themselves from outside civilization, and yet despite this deliberate barrier, find that the outside civilization breaks in and kills their children, anyway. So, despite the best efforts of the Amish to protect themselves from the wicked evils of the world at large, they found themselves experiencing those evils first hand, anyway.
Now, it so happens that I support proposals to arm teachers and even average citizens, and the reason is exposed in this incident here. Gun Control advocates will say “But there was nothing that anyone could have done to stop Russell from barging into that school! No metal detector would have stopped him! No alarm system! Not even an armed teacher would have stopped him from going in!” This is where I return the argument with a dumb and incredulous look, because that’s really the point. No, there is nothing you can do to stop an insane or evil man from coming in- but you can provide a mechanism so you can fight back once they come in.
The difference in these perspectives really comes from my very firm belief that ‘original sin’ is not a peculiar doctrine of the Christian Church that comes merely as a dogma, but rather an accurate and brutally honest assessment of the condition of mankind. It is for this reason that I support checks-and-balance democracies, and it is for this reason that I believe people should have access to the same tools to defend themselves that evil people will have to try to attack them.
It is specifically because you cannot in no way shield yourself from the evils of society 24/7 and the fact that people are evil, VERY evil (feel free to read what Russell intended to do to those girls before killing them, or reference the holocaust if you are particularly insulted by this argument) that you build your systems in such a way as to enable people to defend themselves- against criminals, against murderers, and even against nations.
The fact is, it is because we do not take original sin seriously that we constantly find ourselves surprised by these events. But I’m never surprised. I’m never shocked. When a Voodoo priestess said of a man who cut up his girlfriend, fried her, and ate her, before committing suicide himself (all this because she was going to kick him out of the apartment) “You never know what’s inside someone’s mind” I merely think “NO KIDDING.”
Now, something should be said about the awesome display of Christian forgiveness that the Amish were able to put on. I do appreciate the fact that this was a tremendous display of authentic Christianity that left Christianity looking better than it did before. I am not so certain that we should heap too many accolades on, because the Amish have the benefit of living as a community and therefore being able to respond as one, whereas a school shooting in, for example, Columbine, targets a school community where students attended a wide number of churches. There were wonderful stories reflecting Christianity that came out of Columbine, as well. There were Christian ‘martyrs’ in Columbine, as well. This is not to denigrate the Amish in any respect. It is to put the situation in perspective.
Whether the Christians were integrated into society or segregated, crazy nuts were able to come in and do lethal damage. There is nothing that anyone will ever be able to do to stop attempts like these into the future. I do hope that this reality will make people re-consider the question of whether or not average adult Americans will have the right to defend themselves in proportion to the potential threat they will face, but I do hope that everyone will re-think their stance on humans in general.
At the turn of the last century, there was universal optimism about the improving conduct of humans. There was the Humanist Manifesto, for example, which embodied this optimism. Even among Christians, there was belief that finally enlightened ‘education’ was going to advance humanity. Then came WW1, knocking Barth out of his liberalism. Then came WW2, which knocked Niebuhr out of his. Then you had the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Afghanistan, etc, etc, etc, etc. The Humanist Manifesto has had to be revised numerous times because the secularists continue to think of ‘sin’ as a psychiatric condition which can be eliminated by proper education and medication, etc.
Folks, sin is real. Its here to stay. It only has one Final Remedy, and that is the work of Jesus Christ. In the meantime, we ought to be re-thinking our politics, our policies, and even our daily behaviors, in light of the fact that bad people are out there: and under the right conditions, even we could be counted in that category.