“Mother, mother, there’s too many of you cryin’. Brother, brother, brother, there’s far too many of you dyin’. You know we’ve got to find a way to bring some lovin’ here today…” What’s Going On, recorded by Marvin Gaye. Released on Motown subsidiary Tamla label, 1971. Composers: Al Cleveland, Renaldo Benson, Marvin Gaye
As I write this entry, I am waylaid once again by grief pressed down on me. The grief I speak of is not directly personal, in that I knew none of the victims of the massacre in Las Vegas which occurred last night, October 1, 2017. My grief is not lonely. The nation, in fact masses across the globe, joins me in the sorrow which is almost indescribable. There is no understanding. No discernment, no comprehension to declare here. Really, I do not know how I am writing these sentences in that truly there are no words that can measure the outcry felt deeply within.
Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, mudslides, landslides, tsunamis, floods, and volcanic eruptions have no evil within their cause and effect. Nature and nature’s realities can be, and will be, dangerous, devastating and deadly. Those disasters listed are often called “an act of God.” The one shooting thousands of rounds of ammo from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, wasn’t a force of nature directed by an act of God. This madman had a choice. In fact, from what investigators are reporting, this early in the process of the aftermath, the man had planned the mass murder over several days, at least. He was meticulous in preparing his blueprint of what would be labelled the worst mass shooting in American history. There was a way to forego his path of destruction. The sign in the road read, “CHOOSE LIFE.” He did not hold life as precious.
Evil is calculating. Evil is aware. Evil is intelligent. Evil adjusts for its namesake. Evil cares not for age, race, color, creed or who will, or will not stand for a national anthem. Evil is not a respecter of politics or persons, nor will it ever be. Through the history of humankind, has there been a time when evil was wiped away from the earth? Has there ever been a time when evil relented, retreated or repented? Has there ever been a time where we grew as a society to the point of eradicating evil and its actions? I loudly proclaim “NO” to each of the above.
As we mourn the loss, while praying for the hundreds of injured and their families, let us ask, what now? Is there a remedy? Will we get better when left to our own devices? Have we yet?
Once again, the chosen tools evil utilizes will be debated. (I am not willing or intending to utter anything political at this point. However, I am a supporter of Evil Control.) Do we melt down all the guns? We would also need to melt all knives, box cutters, hammers, scissors, corkscrews, axes and swords. We would need a global military with inspectors to confiscate all piano and guitar strings, rope, cable, and baseball bats. There would be worldwide campaigns to crush all motorcycles, cars, vans, trucks, and 18-wheelers. Great work would be had to discover and destroy all bomb-making materials, gas tankers, propane cylinders and, of course, pressure cookers. No longer would humanity fly from point A to point B for all airplanes would be grounded and placed in museums. Erase all chemicals, all pesticides, all fertilizers, all fire-starters……need I go on? Yes, we can dive headlong into the debate of removing any and all weapons evil uses, but we would be busy building shields to deflect the rocks bound to be hurled at any given time.
Ask yourself the following. Where does evil reside? Where does evil fester? Where does evil grow? Where does evil hide? Where does evil plan?
“The battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“Silence in the face of evil is in itself evil; God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
There is no simplicity to evil, with one exception. Those who have studied it and its source, know full well, evil resides in the heart of each one of us. I know that is hard to hear. The truth is, you can be a good person, a great model for your community, even a terrific Bible thumper, yet while attempting the feats, we have the righteous plumb-line to measure ourselves by. You and I will always fall short of it. Each living person has the ability to express evil at will. Some, like the mass murderer in Las Vegas, will exhibit various depths of this cancer within the human heart. All have broken God’s law — His outline for life’s objectives wrapped in divine purpose. WE make the choice.
“Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” – I John 3:15 (NIV)
Things done in Vegas do not stay in Vegas.
There is evil. Evil was birthed from the Father of Lies. That ancient adversary delivers a false promise. This serpent, this dragon, uses vast intelligence as he presents the promise that evil will satisfy; evil performs justice. Just ask the heavily armed dead man on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. Oh, that’s right, you can’t. He had an appointment to face the Righteous Judge.
The timeless classic song, mentioned at the top of this post, was released as a single. Interestingly enough, the “B-Side” of the 45 vinyl was a song called, “God Is Love.” Thank you, Marvin Gaye for reminding us in 2017. Its poetry certainly applies for this day of grief in October. Choosing well in the here and now, in the time of decision, delivers fuel for the race.
“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Jesus, Matthew 10:28 (NAS)