I was driving down the road and listening to the radio. The school shootings were just hitting the air, full of details that made you grit your teeth. I live in Aurora, Colorado. An odd feeling of deja vu struck. I had to pull over to collect myself. When I made it home, TV's talking heads gravely intoned how bad things have become. "Never before has anything like this…" etc, etc… and maybe now after Adam Lanza, we'll finally "do something" about guns. They are nothing but self aggrandizing and politicizing cretins. Things aren't "getting worse." They have always been this way.
In 1975, Captain & Tennille were singing "Love will keep us together" on the radio, even as the Khmer Rouge were killing 2.5 million people (out of a total population of 8 million) in Cambodia. We stood by and watched it happen, which of course was another evil. In 1945, Sir Alexander Fleming won the Nobel prize in medicine for penicillin, which saved millions of lives. Fleming accepted the award even as we cleaned out camps where other millions were gassed or burned alive in ovens, simply for the crime of being born different. Massive train systems were built to make the slaughter more efficient, while the average German merely complained about the soot. In the 1930s, Albert Einstein said, "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science." His mind went on to envision some of the deepest truths we hold. However, as Einstein was uttering those words, Stalin was saying, "Let the peasants starve." He intentionally caused a famine that took the lives of 14 million people in and around the Ukraine. The event known as "The Hunger" emptied entire cities. A mere 70 years before that, the cruel practice of slavery still existed in the United States, one of the greatest of evils existing in the single greatest symbol of liberty.
From the Armenian genocide to the Rwandan massacres, evil on a grand scale is not new, and strangely enough has always existed beside hope.
On a smaller scale, mankind has been no less evil. In America, we have burned entire neighborhoods alive during outbreaks of various pestilence. Many American Indians and White Settlers alike could have shared details of countless atrocities inflicted upon one another. Lynchings, beatings & killings for one reason or another savagely crowd our history. Recently there were the Crown Heights riots of the 1990s where an innocent Jewish man was beaten to death by a black mob. Just a few years ago a black man was beaten to death by white teenagers in Mississippi. In fact, there has not been a single year in our history where members of one group have not savagely attacked some other group -- Not One Year.
The good old days weren't.
A man alone can be no better than a mob. You think Adam Lanza is an example of how things are only now "getting bad" in America? The existence of Charles Manson, Henry Lee Lucas, David Richard Berkowitz, Aileen Wuornos, Stacey Castor, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Ted Kaczynski, Timothy McVeigh, and Jeffrey Dahmer should give you pause in that assumption. The insane and evil have always been among us. Evil exists everywhere, all around the world. Just last week, Min Yingjun stabbed 22 children in a Chinese elementary school. Anders Behring Breivik recently killed 77 people in Norway and is currently complaining he doesn't get butter delivered to his 3 room suite in prison. The insane are not new.
The only difference is that the media vultures circle 24/7/365 now.
We hear the stories immediately, no matter where or when they happen. A phalanx of beautiful bearers of bad news descend on whatever town or within whatever area tragedy occurs. An endless stream of experts pontificate and tut-tut, while well-coifed anchors nod somberly. Networks stalk and send tweets to survivors and family members of the deceased, begging for interviews. They are ghouls, one and all. The attitude isn't different, just the reach and immediacy.
Meanwhile, Statists try to exploit the tragedy and the 24/7 cycle of depressing news. They insist now is the time for gun control and that we should confiscate guns, "To protect the children!" Mr. Yingjun puts the lie to that idea. Maybe we should ban knives as well? Statists throughout history have claimed high-minded reasons to disarm their populace. However, what the governments who banned guns actually did can be read in the second paragraph of this story.
Let them try. This is not the first instance of people being told to "give up their weapons for the sake of peace." That first people were the ancient Greeks, who even scratched it into their walls. "ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ" (Molon Labe or "Come and take them"). Interestingly enough, the Greeks who invented that phrase also invented Democracy. This is not a coincidence.
So what can we do?
Move forward. Move on. Make the world a little bit better in every way you can. Pray for comfort of the family and friends of those taken from us. Remember that hope and beauty and love exist as well, and that we continue to move forward as a species (if fitfully at times). Stay calm, love, and protect your children. However, while you hold them safe in one hand, hold onto your gun with the other, for you cannot expose your children to evil on a grand scale in a vain attempt to protect them from the smaller evils.