In a secular culture, hatred and evil are products of mental illness and not some more internal, “philisophical” ailment.
What’s scary is that most of these killers are not paranoid, schizophrenic or anything of that sort. For instance, the Oslo shooter, who killed 77 people, was deemed mentally competent to stand trial. The worst you could say about the Sandy Hook shooter was that he had Asperger’s, which is not a precursor to violence. The Isla Vista shooter was just angry women wouldn’t sleep with him. Columbine shooters were bullied. The Synagogue shooter quite clearly hated Jews. Parkland had innumerable red flags, so maybe there’s something there. (This is what you get with a guy who turns shootings into case studies.
Point is, this “Stronger than Hate” thing is just a reminder that, when it comes to hatred and evil itself, people don’t have the most remote idea of what they’re talking about. Yes, let us say once and for all that we are, to an extent stronger than some jackoff consumed by hatred who shoots up a synagogue, that’s not exactly a high bar. But we continue to dance around the problem. We are not prepared, at all, for the next instance of evil because we’re aiming, no pun intended, at the wrong things all in an effort to pass responsibility for our defense to someone else, and to explain the problem in scientific terms when the issue is more philosophical. To the former, we seem to want police to just “be there” at any major incident. This is not possible, they need to be told about it first. To the latter, we have to subjects. First, we’ll say “mental illness” and when that façade fails, we blame the gun for having some weird, necromantic power that drives a man to kill. Contrary to Solzhenitsyn’s “line dividing good and evil” which cuts through the heart of everyone, we want to believe the problem of evil to fit in a nice box that includes only the killer, and not ourselves.
I say that we are “to an extent” stronger than said jackoff because we are never more than the a few tweaks in the wrong direction from justifying horrific behavior. Anyone who said “I would never think of doing that” believes that there exists in his mind a barrier the rest of us do not have. I do not mean to say we have come close to or threatened to break that barrier, I just know it’s there. One of the fundamental teachings of Christianity is that the individual needs to accept that they are “deeply flawed” and capable of incredible cruelty: manipulation of friends and loved ones, lying about important matters, and violence. Perhaps some of the people who committed assault or murder would’ve said 6 years ago they were wholly incapable of such things. Therefore, we need to confront the dark side we all have and learn to control it, instead of saying we’d never go to it. We already seem to be able justify political violence of our side, is it a stretch to assume we could not justify violence from ourselves? Killers from the Synagogue shooter, to the Columbine killers, to the Isla Vista shooter, have found their own ways to reach that barrier.
And here we come to the most terrifying aspect of the mass shooter, and what divides “mentally ill” from “morally bankrupt”: They have their own sound logic. Observe what I can surmise to be the logic of the synagogue shooter:
1) I hate Jews
2) Jews deserve to die (this he actually declared out loud)
3) I will kill them
The biggest problem for us here is that there is no mental illness here. This is the consistent, step-by-step logic of a profoundly hateful man. For another example, we turn to the Columbine shooters. One of them left a journal behind in which he writes: “The human race isn’t worth fighting for, only worth killing…If you recall your history, the Nazis came up with a “final solution”…Kill the Jews, well I say “Kill Mankind”. Noone should survive”. It is important to note that they were harassed and ostracized, which may have played a significant role in them adopting this mindset. But while it doesn’t excuses their actions, it does not render them “mentally ill” either. They simply believed mankind is a cancer, it deserves to die and they shall kill as many people as they can. It is sound, honest, direct, horrifying logic.
Allow me to put this in as simple terms as I can: Calling something “logical” is not the same as calling it “morally good”. It’s just rational. 2+2=4 does not have moral implications.
So what is with this desire to label killers as mentally ill? It exists, of course, for the same reason “ban the guns” exists in the same discussion. Because it’s a neat, plausible system that demands nothing from us. One can just say “Man, he was crazy”, the verbal equivalent of changing your Facebook cover photo, and feel fulfilled in his knowledge and understanding. The deeper problems are much more horrifying because we all are vulnerable to the same forces of evil that the shooter succumbed to.
This is not to say that you will do so yourself, but it important to call to your attention exactly what you are capable of. We all have a darker nature, it is important to recognize it, understand it, and control it.
Because I am a firearms guy, you may ask why I would desire such an evil people to have firearms, even if not, I feel it is necessary to explain this potential paradox. When it comes to believing that good is more prevalent than evil, I don’t have a choice. I see it in my friends, my team and the world around me. I still believe, and especially recent history and tactics demonstrate, that there is good that can be done with these things. Those who train with an honest desire to defend themselves and their families should be allowed to do so as a firearm is, without question, the strongest weapon we have available to us. If nothing else, it is a statistical fact that gun sales have skyrocketed in the last 10 years, while the crime rate has been decreasing for the last 30 years. Evil is not more prevalent than good. It is unwise however to say that it doesn’t exist, or comes with signs of an impending attack. No, while there is less obvious evil in the world, we must prepare for it to visit us.
Tactically, it simply makes sense. We protect absolutely everything else with firearms: courthouses, federal buildings, banks, state and city buildings, all protected with trained firearms users. One might say “Well, yeah, but they’re police”, to which I say “training is training”. A civilian who has trained with guns for 10-15 years is as much, if not more of an asset then a 2 or 3 year vet on the force. With that dealt with, one has to wonder why we do not extend to our children the same protection we give to the government or money.
Evil is not something that can be scientifically discovered. It is a philisophical problem plaguing a country that has replaced philosophy with science and is oh so very proud of itself for doing so. Now we can reduce all the world’s problems to equations. “He killed because he was crazy, he killed because he was possessive, he killed because he had Aspergers”, as if any of these things logically conclude with mass murder. What would it be like to discover that he killed because he failed to control the same force that resides in all of us? Perhaps it is time to reacquaint ourselves with the phrase “There but for the grace of God, go I”