The New Valentines Day Massacre
February 14, 1929, seven men were killed in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood by 4 men in a planned attack in a mob war. According to Wiki – “Two of the shooters were dressed as uniformed policemen, while the others wore suits, ties, overcoats and hats. Witnesses saw the “police” leading the other men at gunpoint out of the garage after the shooting.”
Interestingly enough the student assailant of the February 14, 2018 shooting walked out with others students to try to avoid being captured. What can one say? Sad. Tragic. Needless. My heart goes out to all the students and their families in that school.
The New “Valentines Day Massacre” is a reflection of the human heart. In Florida, 17 Students are dead and many others are physically wounded.
In addition, the psychological trauma and the emotional distress will be painful for years to come if not properly processed by each student. Those intense moments of either confronting the assailant, evading him, or even being confronted by the SWAT teams as they secured the area can become horrific memories in the mind of each student.
I read somewhere that since 1999 and Columbine High School in Colorado, that there have been 25 mass school shootings with nearly 100 students killed. Just shortly after the Columbine event, I walked around the school property, saw the crime scene, and looked at the makeshift memorials on a hillside outside.
Who is to blame? Why do mass casualty events like this happen? Why does it seem to be increasing?
The problem of people killing other people is rooted in the cognition level of what people were celebrating on Valentine’s Day – the heart. While people were eating chocolate hearts, sending hearts on texts, and attempting to express love to their mate, a troubled student in Florida was planning and formulating in his heart a plan of hate and harm.
An old prophet named Jeremiah wrote about the heart 2600 years ago in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
Mankind, at his best is still a sinful being living in a world of pain, suffering, temptations, injustice, and unkindness. People can be flat out mean. It is because we are sinners and have a sin nature that is part of our DNA.
Apart from the “regeneration” of the Holy Spirit of God, individual men will continue to sin against themselves, against others, and against God.
When mass casualty events take place in schools, I ask the following questions:
- Where were the parents?
- Has the dad been a steady influence?
- What kind of abuse did the assailant endure as a child?
- How long has bitterness, anger and rage been left unchecked?
- What was the one “trigger event” or spark that brought this rage to the surface?
Like a chemical reaction, the chemicals can be mixed all together but lacks one ingredient, that when added causes the reaction or explosion. What was the tipping point event (ingredient) in the life of the assailant?
Anyone with “no future” will be living in the past. I suspect that this young man endured a difficult home life, did not feel loved and valued, and reacted to the hardships of life by isolating himself from the accountability of friends and family. This young man had not discovered a purpose or reason for living. It is possible one attempts to find significance by harming others. Sometimes it is even posted in social media ahead of time.
The perception that “I have no reason for being alive” is just that – a perception. It is informed by choices, environment, and the person’s past. This is a sad way many people are living. A person desperate for attention, significance, or security could drive himself to the point of insane actions to gain what he believes is lacking in his life – value.
God loves people so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross, shedding His blood and taking our punishment and paying for our sin with his very life. Following a person’s belief in Jesus, the Christian has a new purpose and reason for living. Ephesians 2:10 states, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Have Hope Today! Choose New Life! Jesus values each person and wants to have a personal relationship with each person.
Common denominators and problematic symptoms of assailants seem to include: a wounded spirit, isolation of self from others, a broken family, playing violent games, listening to music with violent lyrics, and a rebellious attitude that is quite and not always evident on the surface. Sometimes the assailants are trying to replicate something they saw in media. Many times it is the student who is suffering life in silence. The ones who suffer more vocally tend to get more attention from their peers and teachers.
The prophet Jeremiah, cited earlier, was known as “the weeping prophet.” He saw the people of his land suffering and was fast to cry genuine tears. Children in particular were being killed. Jeremiah 31:15 says, “Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.”
The reason for their suffering? Why were their children being killed? The Babylonian enemies of Israel were taking the people captive. Why did God allow the pain, suffering, and even death at the hands of these evil attackers? The people of God (who knew better) were no longer honoring God with their lives. They had forsaken God for money and man-made idols. They had even looked to the government to try to solve all their social and spiritual problems, but it could not help.
Original Sin is the cause of all human suffering. The bad things God allows into our lives are conditioned to our response and relationship with Him. Bad things happen to good and bad people. Good things happen to both too. One pastor friend of mine knows one of the young people who was killed in the Florida shooting. Nothing takes God by surprise.
How we deal with the pain and suffering really depends on our perspective of God. Knowing God is loving and believing He does not want shootings like this to happen can give you assurance. Trusting that God is perfectly Holy, and that mankind is inherently sinful causes us to see the need for God in our lives all the more! God’s heart is that when people love Him, they will want to love and be kind to other people. The heart is the issue.
The assailant broke many laws already including a very basic one – murdering people. He took a weapon(s) onto school property.
Not only did the assailant break current civil laws, he broke the law of God.
- He was not loving his neighbor. Romans 13:8, Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
- He murdered innocent people. Exodus 20:13 says, “Thou shalt not kill.”
- He hated others in his heart. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus likens hating people to killing them. To God, when we humans hate other humans it is the same as murdering them. (Matthew 5:21-22)
A few random concluding thoughts…
- Anytime a person takes the innocent life of another (circumstances of war and self-defense are different) it is a tragic symptom of a heart that does not know God.
- Until there is a change in each human heart we will continue to see more and more evil in this world. Legislating morality is only on the surface. The heart must be affected for it to be lasting.
- Crime can be punished. Even the preventative nature of a swift justice system can be a deterrent, but a person who senses no purpose for life may want to go out “in a blaze of glory” anyway.
- Evil events can be minimized, but they will not be eradicated in a world filled with sin and sinful people. Personal defense courses teach that “only a gun will stop another gun.” Talk to your kids about safe responses. Make them aware of “danger signals.”
- Pray for the victims to recover. Pray for the families of the deceased. Ask God for His peace and comfort to be real to those hurting today. God cares. He knows the pain.
- Above all – give control of your home to God. Teach your kids to love God. When we love God, we will be kind to others. Develop and mold their hearts to be accountable to the God of Heaven.
I leave you with two statements Jesus made in Mark 12:30-31, And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Attacks like this reflect the heart. Many times, the heart is a reflection of the home. Make your home a place that gives meaning and purpose to life with the Lord as the source of that meaning.