Sometimes I pick up the newspaper and start reading a story and I want to stop. I begin thinking, “I don’t want this stuff in my head.” Crime is sometimes pervasive and the crimes are so perverse that it is hard to believe any human being can reach that depth of depravity. I want to pitch the story and think, “I don’t want to think of people doing such things.” But to do that is to pretend the world is better than it is, forget about our responsibilities, and abandon the victims to live with whatever it was by themselves. Perhaps, in some cases, there is even hope that the perpetrators will repent of their crimes.
I am reading a book right now called, “A Terrible Thunder.” It chronicles the story of the Mark Essex sniper shootings in New Orleans when I was almost a teen. Essex, a Navy veteran, who had met bigotry as a young man, turned sour, affiliated with the Black Panthers, and decided to go on a mad rampage against white people. As an adult I read this and greatly admire the police forces for handling what was really one of the first terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. But I also think of how someone might have gotten a younger Essex on a different path.
Crime for society is what running a temperature is to the human body. We must resist criminals with strong resolve just as a doctor fights an infection. But, if a patient keeps getting an infection – the doctor must ask why. Isn’t it high time we begin to ask ourselves why we have such a high incarceration rate and why criminals seems to be coming up with more and more henanios crimes?
I know what our tendency is. I have it in myself. It is just to want to press on and let others deal with the “problems” as they arise. We hope that the current criminal justice system will take out the bad apples and we can just press on with our lives. But that is just playing ostrich and will not solve the problems that we face.
I don’t pretend to have a magic solution to all this. But prayer and paying attention are surely first steps.
All the best and In Christ,