This is the second city where I’ve lived that has suffered a mass shooting. The first was in Littleton at Columbine in 1999 and now, San Bernardino in 2015. Both hit close to home. Our church was just down the street from Columbine High School and we would pass it every week as we drove by. I stood on the hill in the park where someone placed the crosses, one for each victim.
I was raised in San Bernardino County. I may have driven by the Waterman exit (where the Inland Regional Center is) several thousand times in my lifetime. My daughter was only a mile away from the incident and her college was on lockdown and her classroom was barricaded in the dark until 4:30 pm Wednesday night. The shooters lived in Redlands, just a short 7-minute drive from where I work.
While the prospect of the San Bernardino incident being an act of terror puts this into a slightly differently light, there are parallels. Here are 10 points that I’ve been thinking about.
- Evil is real.
If anyone doubts the existence of evil, they are mad or in denial. The devil is the father of lies, a deceiver and is real. “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8. Premeditated murder…at whatever scale is part of our history. Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao…9-11, Paris, Boston Marathon, Columbine, San Bernardino…1 on 1 murder or war on the womb via abortion or killing the elderly via euthanasia. However people justify it, murder is one of the many faces of evil.
- First responders are HEROS.
In every tragedy you see a glimpse of the best of humanity in our first responders…our military, police, firefighters, doctors, nurses and more. While the rest of the world is running the other way, look to them to lead the way into danger, at peril of their own lives. We can’t thank them enough. They deserve our respect and support.
- Cell phone and social media change the game of real-time reporting.
The world knows within minutes if something big is going down. The old newspaper adage “if it bleeds, it leads” is still true. With news organizations taking their cues from texts from those inside, videos taken with cell phones and posted to social media, it’s no longer News at 11. It’s news now and real-time. Drama, as it unfolds is hard to turn off and look away.
- When the media is gone, the real healing begins.
I attempted to drive past the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. There were blocks and blocks of news satellite trucks from all over the area, waiting to report the latest on the tragedy. They will be here for a while, and then eventually be gone. For the widows, widowers, orphans, friends and loved ones, for those who have been injured both physically and traumatized psychologically, life goes on…but in great pain and sadness. Life will never be the same. They need our prayers, support and kindness. They also need their space.
- We can make our children incrementally safer, but not ultimately safe.
As a parent, there is nothing more that I want then my children to be safe, and I’m willing to give up some freedoms and conveniences to do it. As much as I wish differently, there is no way we can stop everything in life from going wrong. Accidents happen. Evil happens. Fortunately, both are the exceptions to the rule. Be wise. Be alert, but at some point you have to let your kids live their lives without smothering them or making them petrified every time you leave the house.
- Most of the “solutions” offered by politicians after a shooting wouldn’t have stopped the incident in the first place.
I’ve been a member of the NRA and believe in the 2nd amendment rights for citizens to defend themselves. Shooting a gun is a privilege just like driving a car is a privilege. You can’t outlaw everything dangerous. It’s not practical or possible. Some regulation and oversight is necessary, but most proposed gun control laws increase government’s role in data collection (who knows how will this be used in the future?), reduce the rights of citizens to protect their families and won’t stop those intent on causing harm from obtaining weapons.
- Mass deaths are treated differently by society and the media.
As tragic as these mass shootings, plane crashes, suicide bombings are, these make headlines because they are so rare. According the Center For Disease Control, cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States and over 600,000 die from heart disease. Imagine the outcry our county would have if the 10,076 people that were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes happened on the same day, in the same place.
- Life is short. Use it wisely.
You don’t know what a day will bring, or when it will be your last. James says it best “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14. Do the good you can today, while you can. Tell someone you love them. Don’t be so critical. Hug your spouse and your kids a little longer.
- The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.
Imagine a place where there were perfect parents who walked with God, the kids were home-schooled, there was no violence on TV, or video games, no pollution, no peer pressure and everyone ate organic food. No violence right? That wasn’t the case for Cain and Abel (Genesis 4)…Cain still killed his brother. The problem is one of the heart. The Bible says since the fall of man, all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God (Romans 3:23). While most of us are not as bad a we could be, we are separated from God and need a Savior. We need a transformation that only Jesus can bring.
- God’s not finished yet.
In the end, God promises to bring justice and punish sin. “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7.
Events like this shooting shake us to the core and cause us to pause from the hustle and bustle of life and ponder our mortality. Let’s not waste it. Take the time to watch this video, hear the good news and turn to Christ while there is still time.
“Choose this day whom you will serve…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
#PrayForSanBernardino #SBStrong #NeverForget