Once again, a shooter at a school took lives, and commentators and citizens and officials offered their takes on both the causes and solutions. One US Senator weighed in, with one part of wisdom and another of ignorance. Speaking of Santa Fe High School, Ted Cruz said, “This community has seen the face of unmitigated evil.” Yes they did, and we’d all agree.
But he then amazed me with the rest of the quote, found in the Dallas News on May 19, “None of us knows why there’s evil in the world.”
On the same day Barry Fike, a good friend and fellow teacher, now a professor at Pepperdine University posted, “School shootings continue and…consider this: If we take God out of our lives, we take away the backbone of our society. It is why we can conclude that, without God, no true sense of justice nor wisdom exists—both require and assume an underpinning of universal truths of human nature and of what is good. Without those, the structure of our society starts collapsing.”
Evil is Real. We humans choose, and when we choose good, the amount of good increases. When we choose evil, the amount of evil increases. And when we abandon a common sense of morality, then chaos results. We’re seeing that. Evil has two primary sources. First, evil comes from Satan, the opponent of God, and he’s real, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Evil also comes when people make evil choices. Senator Cruz, that’s why there’s evil in the world. Satan, and us. And I’m old enough, as a semi-former hippie and Jesus Freak, to see that it’s been increasing. 2018 has already seen 22 school shootings alone according to CNN. Then out of curiousity, I googled the history of school shootings by decades. This amazed me. Keep in mind the population growth accounts for some of the increase. The first documented shooting was in 1840. Not many for some time. 1920s, 10; 1930s, 9; 1940s, 8; 1950s, 16; 1960s, 19; 1970s, 31 (notice the increase here); 1980s, 41; 1990s, 66; 2000s, 65; 2010 to 2017, 137 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_school_shootings_in_the_United_States).
What cultural change occurred around the 70s? Postmodernism. The abandoning of the Judeo Christian ethic as the foundation for society’s values. Morals became subjective, up to every individual. Now, having seen some significant growth in evil, go back and read Barry’s comments again.
Evil Wins Sometimes. More people are making choices we call evil. Why? We have no clear concept that it exists, no clear concept of where it came from, no thought of the consequences. And we lose.
Be Aware of the Battle. So what do we do? Culturally, we need to craft a consensus on morality, one that transcends individual preference. We had one, we can go back. But individually, we need to understand the reality of evil, the damage evil brings, and identify it in our lives and when we encounter it. One last passage that talks about a spiritual world that surrounds us, one we’re often oblivious to, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up” (Hebrews 12:1, NLT). Let’s send evil back to hell.
Kick Starting the Application
How often do you think of the reality of evil? Of the spiritual world around us? Identify an experience that had a spiritual component that you ignored and got slammed? How could you have avoided it? What will you do differently this week?