Let’s take a walk through the halls of history, from the very dawn of civilization as the earliest men spoke the first rudimentary language into being, on through the gory halls of war and conquest, until the turbulent now in which we live and breathe. We can most easily start with the Biblical tale of two brothers, set to differences over envy, and it is this envy that sets in motion the events that result in Cain standing over Able’s still corpse. With this singular act, Cain becomes the archetype for killers standing over the still form of another in an endless parade of death and mayhem that is repeated over and over again throughout time.
Everything humanity has touched is drenched in man’s apparently unquenchable thirst for violence, from the dirt paths of Canaan, running red with the blood of man, woman, and child, to the body shrewn battlefield of Bull Run, to the ash choked streets of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to the building to building, street to street, block to block fighting of the concrete jungle of the streets of Baghdad. When fundamental cultural questions become intractable, violence is the fundamental language spoken by all people, at all times, everywhere.
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Seventy-Nine days ago, a 29 year old Muslim named Omar Mir Seddique Mateen entered the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida and began firing upon unarmed civilians. He murdered forty-nine people in all, stopping to check Facebook to see if people were talking about him or what he was doing. When the police entered the nightclub hours later, he fired upon them, and the police officers shot and killed him.
Fifty-four days ago, during what had started as a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas Texas, an Afghanistan War veteran named Micah Xavier Johnson, age 25, began firing on Dallas police officers who were protecting the protesters along the route of their march. He murdered 5 police officers: Brent Thompson, Lorne Ahrens, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael J. Smith, and Michael Krol. Refusing to surrender himself once cornered, the police officers shot and kill him.
Twenty-Eight days ago, a young woman named Korryn Gaines, with her five year old son in her arms, was gunned down in her apartment, because she chose to threaten police officers with a shotgun. The police officers were there to arrest her, because she had failed to appear in traffic court, because she had been ticketed for driving a vehicle without tags or insurance. Her death left her son and daughter without a mother.
I am not going to waste time arguing whether or not one death was justified and another was not. I am simply going to say nothing was gained by any of these deaths. The forty-nine lives cut short by Omar Mateen’s rampage has done nothing but prove Islamists are cowards no different than psychotic criminals like James Holmes and Dylann Roof, attacking defenseless people. And whatever political statement Korryn Gaines or Mica Johnson hoped to make with their actions died with them.
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”
1 Corinthians 13:11
These deaths are but pebbles disturbing the illusion of a serene pond of civilization. They are just the largest ripples among hundreds that last five minutes on the local news report, and pass forever from our memories. In the fullness of time, they will be no more than asterisks beside larger events, but in the here and now, they are echoes of two major civilizational conflicts, one external and the other internal.
Externally, Islam has been at war with the rest of the world for 1,500 years. There has never been a period of peace within Islam. Its prophet was born a warrior into a warrior culture. He established his faith through the fundamental language of blood and conquest. Whatever hope there may be that it becomes a peaceful religion, it is not now, and we can no longer treat it as though it is. As a civilization, they give us only two choices: fight them here or fight them there. The only question really is whose civilians will die. Our government has an obligation to ensure that it not be ours. It is as simple as that.
Internally, Kodi Gaines, the 5 year old son of Korryn Gaines, was injured in the shooting that claimed his mother’s life, but the injury was not life threatening, and he has since recovered. Who can fathom what his young mind processes about his mother’s death? Children that young often do not have a complete grasp of the finality of death. Will this push him toward bitterness and violence, fed by the same paranoia and mistrust of society his mother had? Can he be spared such a dark fate? I dearly hope so.
Even now his childhood is waning, his innocence blowing away upon the winds of time. One night far too soon, Kodi the young boy will go to sleep and never to return, and Kodi the young man will awaken the next day. Something tells me that if we could bridge that gulf that lay between Korryn and the society she grew to hate and fear so much, that somehow we could find the cure to so many of the things that have divided us as a nation. I pray for that day, and I hope you do too.
Be Brave. Be Free.
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