Enough is enough. Violence with guns has sadly become part of American culture, and it needs to stop. But if all we do is point fingers at rifles and march on Washington, we don’t understand what’s happened – and is happening – in America. In colonial Williamsburg, every single young man was required to own a rifle. Did young colonists barge into one-room schoolhouses, bars and meeting places and shoot them and their participants to smithereens? The fact that they didn’t speaks volumes to us today – if we are willing to think about it and connect the dots. The problem, however, is that most of us are not willing to think about why things have gotten worse in America.
The tongue has become the new assault weapon of choice in our nation, with the human heart the high-capacity magazine that keeps the ammunition flowing. But very few Americans want to reign in their tongues, or other forms of violence for that matter. Violence with guns is a trend that is going to get worse if we don’t address the underlying reason for the violence. We can talk about gun control all we want. We can march on Washington until our feet are sore. Americans will kill each other with butter knives if that’s the only thing they have to use.
The root problem, from which all our other problems are arising, is that more and more Americans are bullying God and people of faith. And we’re surprised at the increase of evil? We kicked God out of the schools – and our schools have become more violent than ever. We want God off the football fields, out of bakeries, away from civic meetings, kept under lock and key. Mention the idea of moral absolutes and you’re labeled a “hater” and a bigot.
We wanted a secularized society? Well, here it is, loud and proud. A society that vilifies God is an immoral society to the core. No such society can produce any lasting good. When history is written, it may be said that the most amazing thing about America in the 21st century was that we expected society to get better while we simultaneously removed God from virtually every aspect of our lives.
It’s time for much more than a march on Washington. It’s time for a nationwide time-out in every neighborhood across America. Not for a day or a weekend, because we are prone to quickly forget. America’s time-out needs to be long, and serious. Our anger issue does not have a political solution, but a spiritual one. If the trend toward demonizing God and people of faith continues, brace yourself. What we’re witnessing is merely the foreword to a novel nobody wants to read. But read it, we all will, if we don’t turn things around.
Though deep thinking is no longer trending in America, it’s time to revive it, along with the free exercise of religion, not it’s vilification. If we want to end violence with guns, we’ve got to connect the dots between violence in all forms at the precise time when God and people of faith are being bullied in unprecedented ways. Violence with guns is a symptom, the fruit of a much deeper problem in America. Until we deal with the root, we’ll keep bearing the same fruit.
Can more be done to reduce violence with guns? Absolutely. Just ask former Marjory Stoneman High School resource deputy Scot Peterson, who ran when he should have done his job. Ask the FBI, which didn’t follow up on concerns about Nikolas Cruz, or law enforcement officials who visited his home nearly 40 times prior to the school shooting. The fact that Cruz slipped through the system is nothing less than obscene. But the answer is not a bigger government and the control that it always brings. The answer is the fundamental change of heart that needs to happen across the nation. No government can bring that about. And a people who legislate the removal of God from every aspect of life will have nothing but hell to pay for their foolishness.
Think deeply and get your house in order. It’s time that we stop reaching for band-aids while we’re hemorrhaging. It’s time to understand why violence with guns is on the rise at this particular time – and to address the real reason head on. That, my friends, would take a degree of thinking and courage that very few Americans have yet to display. Perhaps, today, that will begin to change.
Michael Anthony is author of “A Call For Courage: Living with Power, Truth, and Love In An Age of Intolerance and Fear” a speaker and blogger through the Courage Matters app and CourageMatters.com, and lead pastor of Grace Fellowship in York, Pennsylvania.